- Ben Duckett hit an unbeaten century in England’s final game of the summer
- Zak Crawley and Phil Salt also blasted half-centuries for the hosts
- The game was abandoned after 31 overs following a torrential downpour
Cricket suffered its second weather controversy in a week here yesterday when the final international of a long season was called off amid farcical scenes.
One heavy shower was enough to force the final ODI to be abandoned at 3.21pm, just over half an hour after it started raining, after Bristol ground-staff appeared far too slow to cover the square, leaving the pitch soaked and areas around it saturated.
And it followed similar scenes at Headingley last Wednesday when a wet area on one of the bowler’s run ups forced what should have been the first match between England and Ireland to be abandoned.
The embarrassment for Gloucestershire was compounded because England, who take the ‘series’ 1-0, were on course to make history, racing along to 280 for four after 31 overs and in with a great chance of overtaking their highest one-day score of 498 against the Netherlands last year.
And the frustration was made more acute for the 5,000 or so spectators who had braved the late September conditions by the cut-off point for refunds coming just one over before the players were taken off.
Heavy rain forced England’s final game of the summer to be abandoned on Tuesday
The groundstaff tried to get the covers onto the pitch quickly, but strong winds made it difficult
England had looked set to post a huge score after Ben Duckett hit his maiden ODI hundred
At least those supporters were treated to a brief but brutal display of hitting by England’s second-string one-day side, Ben Duckett making his first 50-over century after Phil Salt and Will Jacks had got England off to a spectacular start.
Both teams were then caught out by the speed of the abandonment, with England captain Zak Crawley saying: ‘It’s a shame it ended like that. The ground was wet this morning and it didn’t need a lot more rain for it to be abandoned. Then a lot more came in a short space of time.
‘It looked like the ground-staff were trying their best but it was difficult for them out there to get the covers on. I don’t think anything more could have been done.
Ireland captain Paul Stirling was surprised at the speed of the handshakes between the sides, adding: ‘We’re maybe used to this more in Ireland because there’s a bit more rain there but we’ve never come across anything like that in England before where it was so sudden. We’re pretty disappointed.’
It was left to Gloucestershire chief executive Will Brown to defend a decision that was made with more than six hours of scheduled playing time remaining. ‘It’s just gutting,’ he said. ‘But you have to bear in mind the conditions if you’re trying to move covers.
‘If they’re wet and heavy already and it’s like monsoon weather it makes it a hell of a lot harder. The ground-staff did an admirable job in very difficult circumstances.’
The bottom line is that Bristol is a county ground staging an international and Gloucestershire’s facilities struggled to cope with the demands of the occasion.
Sympathy comes with the late date for this game – and it will not get any easier. The next international at Bristol comes against Australia next year – on September 29.