England frustrated by the rain again

The rain arrived at Edgbaston midway through the afternoon, immediately after the drinks break, with England 59 for three and with Australia starting to exert a stranglehold. By the time the latest practical time to get the ground prepared and a restart under way had been passed, it had still not relented, and the umpires were left with no option but to abandon the third one-day international as a no result.

It leaves Australia with a one-match advantage and two games to be played, the first match at Headingley also having been washed out. It means that, with that lead, Australia come closer to rising to second place in the ODI rankings.

This is desperate luck, once more, for Edgbaston. The wisdom of trying to stage day-night matches in September England is debatable in any case, with the potential for dew and chilly evenings, but it is impossible to legislate for the sort of weather that has blighted the ground in the past year. Last season, three days of the Test match against West Indies were obliterated by the rain, as was England’s one-day international against Australia. A year ago almost to the day, the T20 international here against South Africa was severely curtailed to 11 overs a side and even that was possible only because of heroic efforts from the groundstaff, who once more, in mopping up all afternoon even as the rain was falling, have redefined futility.

Only 15 overs and one delivery were possible on Wednesday, and this after a start delayed by 20 minutes, which means, in terms of refunds, that spectators will be entitled to a 50% return, 20 overs being the cut-off point for this. The match receipts will be insured (although goodness knows what the premiums must be with the ground’s current relationship with the weather), as, apparently, are the bar takings. With the massive investment in its facilities, including the huge main stand, Edgbaston deserves better: somewhere there must be mirrors smashed, ladders walked beneath and black cats run over.

As far as this series is concerned, Australia appear to be better equipped than the home side. England resisted the chance to make a change – an extra bowler, perhaps, in Chris Jordan, who spent considerable time beforehand working with David Saker – and opted for the same side that lost heavily at Old Trafford, while Australia omitted their leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed and brought in the pace bowler Josh Hazlewood in his stead. Given the weather forecast, Michael Clarke had no hesitation in opting to bowl first.

England will have gleaned nothing of consequence from such play as there was, beyond the fact that Mitchell Johnson is bowling with some rapidity and a good measure of control, and that Michael Carberry is having similar fortune to Edgbaston itself. The absences of Alastair Cook and Ian Bell have given him a chance to stake a claim at the top of the order after some outstanding form for Hampshire but it is not panning out. Having previously made 10 against Ireland, and four at Old Trafford, he scurried a single off the mark and then found himself run out, transfixed at the non-striker’s end as Kevin Pietersen scarpered through for a seat-of-the-pants leg-bye from the last ball of the opening over. An older hand might have sent Pietersen back; a more alert one, mindful of his partner’s propensity, would have responded immediately and probably made his ground. He was neither and did not.

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