The International Cricket Council is under heavy fire after ‘farcical’ scenes at the Women’s T20 World Cup saw England knocked out in the semi-finals without taking the field.
England’s semi-final clash with India was unable to be played on Thursday because of the heavy rain that lashed Sydney.
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But inexplicably the ICC failed to schedule any reserve days for this very scenario and India advanced to the final because they finished higher in their pool.
Play was slated to start at 3pm AEDT in Sydney but the heavy covers remained in place at 4.08pm, when umpires gave up hope of staging an abridged contest.
The MCG final isn't until Sunday, but the ICC failed to schedule a reserve day in case of either semi being washed out.
England were eliminated from the event when skipper Heather Knight shook hands with India counterpart Harmanpreet Kaur, whose side topped Group A after winning all four of their pool games.
England ranked second in Group B and paid a massive price for their opening loss to South Africa.
Knight was reasonably diplomatic after the farcical finish, which she dubbed “sad for the tournament”, but made it clear that no team should suffer the same fate at future World Cups.
“They're the rules that everyone signed up to. Obviously there has been this situation and the game tonight is potentially going to be rained off as well, so you'd hope now there is going to be a rule change,” Knight told reporters.
“That moving forward, no other team will have to experience going out of a World Cup purely because of rain. Hopefully it changes. We're frustrated.
“The weather has cost us. It'll be nice not to have the jokes about English weather now ... that's one positive.
“It's gutting. You put in a lot of hard work ... we're just going to have to rue that first game and try to move on, but it's going to be a bitter pill to swallow.”
Australian great Mark Waugh tweeted it was absurd the ICC did not have “reserve days for finals in the biggest tournament of the year and possibly lifetime for many players”, while the rest of the cricket world was equally gobsmacked.
Mike Keegan of the Daily Mail called it a “dark day for women’s sport”, while former England captain Michael Vaughan described it as a “shambles”.
Not as surprising as ICC not scheduling reserve days for finals in the biggest tournament of the year and possibly lifetime for many players. Absolutely absurd.#commonsense— Mark Waugh (@juniorwaugh349) March 5, 2020
This is a dark day for women’s sport and the @ICC should be ashamed of itself. To not have a reserve day for a World Cup semi-final - and to then deny a request for one - is scandalous, reckless and plain stupid. I know the countries signed up for the rules but come on...— Mike Keegan (@MikeKeegan_DM) March 5, 2020
All you muppets saying it’s karma,do one ... At least the England men’s team had to produce skill on the day ... to not have a chance to produce skill and it to be taken away by the weather is a shambles ... anyway Morning everyone #T20WorldCup— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) March 5, 2020
These women who have come so far progressing international cricket deserve better. This World Cup has descended into utter farce. What a joke when this was so foreseeable. Why wouldn’t you have a reserve day for weather?— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) March 5, 2020
Stuart Broad gives a 👎 to the ICC pic.twitter.com/2rlkBwVZEh— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) March 5, 2020
No reserve day. Two sf on the same day and two sf at the same venue. All of which do not happen in the men's world cup. Poor from @ICC and surprised that all teams accepted it too.#INDvENG #T20WorldCup2020— Hemang Badani (@hemangkbadani) March 5, 2020
No reserve day for women"s semifinal. There is no importance of women's world cup in the eyes of ICC! Very shameful— Lovelesh Hindustani (@LoveleshHindus1) March 5, 2020
@ICC @cricketworldcup this is very very poor! Wouldn’t happen in a men’s game or in another sport like football! These players work hard and to end their World Cup hopes tlike this is pretty disgusting!! https://t.co/eSm1IyqQAP— Sophie Davies (@SDPhysioBristol) March 5, 2020
ICC explain lack of reserve days
The ICC had previously rejected calls for reserve days to be implemented, saying it was due to short turn-around times.
“The ICC T20 World Cups are short, sharp events where reserve days are factored in for the final,” an ICC spokesman said.
“Allowing for any other reserve days would have extended the length of the event, which isn't feasible.
“There is a clear and fair alternative should there be no play in any of the semi-finals with the winner of the group progressing."
Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said his request to schedule a reserve day was rejected.
“It's not part of the playing conditions and we respect that," Roberts said on SEN on Wednesday.
“It gives you cause to reflect and think about how you might improve things in the future.
“But going into a tournament with a given set of playing conditions and rules, I don't think it's time to tinker with (the rules) as much as ... I might love that.”
Aussies narrowly avoid similar fate
Later on Thursday Australia beat the weather by nine minutes and South Africa by a rain-affected five runs to set up a dream final against India at the MCG.
In a dramatic Thursday night at the SCG, Australia's 5-134 became a target of 98 from 13 overs for South Africa, before they held them to 5-92 in a thrilling finish.
But Australia's title defence could have been over so much earlier, with rain threatening to wash them out as well and send the Proteas through to the final.
After England's tournament had been ended without a ball bowled, Australia' semi-final was delayed by 25 minutes.
The match was then held up for another 38 minutes between innings, before players returned to the field nine minutes before play was set to be called off.
“I'm pretty relieved,” captain Meg Lanning admitted.
“Just excited for the opportunity that is coming up. It wasn't an easy day.
“We had a lot of waiting around and just hoping the weather was going to hold off.”