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Facing the economics of rain-hit cricket

Published: June 20, 2019 21:52:15 | Updated: June 22, 2019 22:03:15


Ground staff putting covers on the pitch as rain delays a match, India v New Zealand, at Trent Bridge in Nottingham of Britain on June 13, 2019. -Reuters file photo

Good or bad, rain affects all human activities including cricket. As the whole country, and indeed the entire cricketing world, would like to pass days in excitement and thrill during these World Cup cricket days, rain has come as a dampener of sorts. Four full matches out of the first twenty-three were washed out. These include Bangladesh's key match with Sri Lanka that Mashrafee's team had eyed on to win. We do not have the estimate for the loss from the abandoned match against Sri Lanka, but losses from unscreened advertisement would be huge, without a doubt. The usually high-voltage sub-continental confrontation between favourites India and unpredictable Pakistan, arguably one of the biggest matches of the competition, was cut shorter by rain, and turned out to be what an expert termed a 'damp squib'.

However, the biggest loser here came to be the insurance companies who had to count millions of takas in unforeseen payments. With advertisement slots rising into 0.25 million taka per second, the loss of the advertisement time in the India-Pakistan match would be huge. ICC's bosses had an explanation for the queer way the match ebbed and flowed, especially during the Pakistani innings, but many would argue money was the main issue here. A total loss of 1.8 billion takas had been calculated till before the South Africa vs New Zealand fixture on Wednesday. And this figure would rise, given the peculiarity of English weather this year. In fact Bangladesh were going into the Australia match on Thursday with forecasts of rain and a gloomy sky.

Not that rain always comes as a dampener for festivities. It is thought that football matches become more competitive after or during a rain. In literature and music, the subcontinent has a long tradition of and association with rain. Kalidasa's Meghdut would not have been written if the main character there had not remembered his consort from distant banishment on a day of torrential rain. Tagore and Nazrul have given special status to rain in their poems and songs. In fact the Bengali mind is deeply embedded with rain. All subsequent poets and writers have extolled rain as a starting point of their vocation. But cricket in real time is different. Television companies, insurers, book-makers, advertisers, sports administrators and, above all, players and fans would like a match to be played in its entirety. Jobs, temporary and permanent, are involved here. And there is the thrill of it all.

Although rain at times gives a degree of uncertainty to a match, thereby extending its excitement in the end, as Pakistan knows very well from its experience against England in Australia in 1992, when it became champions, this year it has become a real hurdle upsetting plans and programmes, corroding finance and business, hurting joy and jobs. The slightly rain-curtailed South Africa versus New Zealand fixture however was different as it produced a thriller till inside the last over. Science will definitely help and rescue cricket from the vagaries of nature some day. Fully covered stadiums may be a reality in the future, as talks about it are already being floated. Uniform pitches may be in use in the coming years nullifying `dew effect' and restoring to players their real worth. All these are economic issues since more money will be needed. And definitely the sport is itself strong enough to generate the required cash. Cricket must stand erect to save itself from the unkind touch of disconsolate rain. Let rain have its dominant and fruitful reign elsewhere.

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