I still remember the sheer anger, hatred and frustration amongst the general public post the World Cup Final that led to them absolutely ravaging ICC’s social media accounts. It was ruthless and relentless. I remember thinking how such a reaction would ensure that ICC never goof-up in the future.
Well, clearly, by the looks of things, I’m not the greatest judge out there. Clearly, my perception of the ICC was completely wrong and I underestimated their propensity to keep mucking up over and over again. Because, here we are, once again, having to debate over a dozy decision that they took - or rather, did not take - ahead of a major ICC Tournament.
They had one job - to have a reserve day for the semi-final - and they could not do that properly. It was that simple. All they had to do was arrange ONE reserve day for the semi-final. But oops, of course, it completely slipped their mind whilst planning the tournament and of course, here they are, justifying their actions. The worst part is that they make it sound as if they had completely thought through all the implications and complications involved when they came up with this genius decision to NOT have a reserve day.
So, this is what a spokesperson from the ICC had to say when he was questioned on why there wasn’t a reserve day scheduled for the semi-final: “The ICC T20 World Cups are short sharp events where reserve days are factored in for the final. Allowing for any other reserve days would have extended the length of the event, which isn't feasible."
That looks like a fair argument - until you take a look at the actual schedule. Once you do, this statement looks like nothing but a terrible attempt from the ICC to cover up their ignorance, arrogance and short-sightedness. The original schedule has both the semi-finals to be played on March 5 in Sydney, after which the teams will travel to Melbourne to play the final on March 8.
So let us break this down. First things first, there is a three-day gap between the semi-final and the final. So had a reserve day been scheduled on March 6 (the day after the allotted semi-final day), the teams would still have, apart from the travel, a complete day’s rest to recover and gear up for the final which is scheduled for March 8. The fact that both semi-finals are scheduled to be played on the same day and that the travel from Sydney to Melbourne is no more than a 1.30-hour flight makes it more convenient as well. But apparently, according to the ICC, it is ‘not feasible’ because “allowing for any other reserve days would have extended the length of the event.”
You can understand, though. Adding a reserve day for the semi-finals to extend a global event that occurs once every two years must be such a difficult decision to take, right? I’m sure the teams would rather see games get washed off and be decided by intangibles than actually going out, playing and getting a result. But the funny thing is how all this ‘not feasible’ argument went out of the window during the 2019 World Cup. There, the semis were played on two different days, rather than the one here, and just like this tournament, there was just a three-day gap between the second semi-final and the final. And to make things worse, it was a 50-over contest. Yet, they somehow found it ‘feasible’ to arrange a reserve day.
In fact, there is more. "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," is also what the spokesperson said. Right, who knew that deciding finalists based on who did well in the group stages - which was also affected by rain - would be a fairer than just having the teams involved actually compete in the middle and get a result.
The role played by the boards of the countries involved in this fiasco also needs to be questioned. At no point before the tournament began did any board pressurize or make a proposal to the ICC to include a reserve day, despite knowing well in advance that a spare day was not in the original schedule. Cricket Australia requested the council to include a reserve day only after realizing that their team could potentially be affected by the situation. By then, it was too late.
This begs the question: how difficult is it for the authorities involved to think through the ifs and what-ifs involved and come up with feasible solutions for the same before the plan is actually finalized? With the boundary countback rule, at least, there were a lot of complexities involved - the probability of it actually happening in the first place was very less and since it was an actual rule, it either needed to be re-written or scrapped. Here, though, the solution was pretty straightforward: all they needed to do was schedule a goddamn reserve day (that was very much feasible in the original schedule). Yet, thanks to the council’s incompetency and ineptness, here we are.
It is pretty easy for the authorities to give naive, ignorant, bland statements like the one above to justify their blunder but at the end of the day, it’s the players who are the real victims. Imagine working hard for years, day in and day out, giving your everything on the field, fighting your way through heartbreaks and busting your backside out to just to be screwed over by inconsiderate people who are more determined to cover up their mistakes than make an actual change.
This is not the first time that the authorities are letting the players and the fans down nor will it be the last. The sad thing though is that the people in charge, instead of taking up ownership and responsibility, are in complete denial and are willing to go to heights to justify their actions. If evidence from the past 10 months is anything to go by, then well, brace yourself for a major catastrophe to strike in seven months time, when the Men’s World T20 beckons.