County cricket March 8, 2013

Dealing with a precipitation cessation

Whether putting your feet up for a welcome rest, trying to unpick the Duckworth-Lewis method, or battling boredom and dressing-room banter, rain breaks are an unavoidable fact of a cricketer's life

Rain breaks: not uncommon in Worcester © PA Photos

The rain break is as established a feature of county cricket as a Marcus Trescothick century or an Alan Richardson five-for, and occurs with similar frequency.

While the fans bemoan the weather gods, it is not always the same story in the dressing room. A battle-hardened seamer may enjoy the odd 30 minutes of respite while the pitch gets that little bit juicier. For some it's a chance to get acquainted with the Telegraph sports section (the younger members obviously read Cricinfo on their smartphones). Others will use the time to relax however they can: cards, table tennis, indoor cricket, and even - if rumours are to be believed about one player - onanism.

There are certain times when you wish the heavens would open. An unnamed overseas player once announced with suitable deadpan: "With all due respect to the fans, the umpires, the administrators and my fellow players: Rain on." But for the most part the players are just as frustrated as the fans, albeit less wet.

When the rain falls in a one-day game it brings with it the attendant glories of Duckworth-Lewis. At Worcestershire we have been unlucky on a couple of occasions with D/L, when we were defending large scores last season against Netherlands and Lancashire in the CB40. We went on to lose both these games after the chasing side was set a less challenging total than we felt our score merited, but the most unfair targets seem to get set in T20.

"One of the questions was 'What is your favourite quote?' In my optimistic high-mindedness I chose a Christopher Hitchens line: 'Do not seek refuge in the false security of the consensus'"

There is a feeling around the counties that the target set by D/L in T20 is almost always advantageous towards the side batting second. I have no idea if any governing body have sought to address the issue but it certainly deserves attention, especially with the amount of money in this particular format. It may well be preferable to keep D/L and tweak it instead of replacing it altogether.

The mathematical principle seems sound - it takes into account the two resources in chasing a total, namely the number of overs and wickets remaining. It might be that the database of matches that can be sourced is insufficient to come up with a reliable target, seeing as T20 is still in its relative infancy. If our coach, Steve Rhodes, is to get his way this could be a side project for Mervyn King when he decides to hang up his, erm, wallet(?) as the Governor of the Bank of England. If an alternative system were to be developed I could think of few better people to come up with the replacement than lifelong Worcestershire fan Mervyn.

The rainfall can often precipitate (forgive me) the onset of boredom amongst the squad. If there is a more unforgiving place than a room full of irritable professional sportsmen I am unaware of it. In a recent Professional Cricketers' Association poll, 90% of players said they would prefer to be waterboarded than to suffer half an hour of Richard Jones trying to wind you up. You immediately submit yourself to the arbitration of the rest of the team once you enter the dressing room. One such way to guarantee being singled out is to use phrases like "submit yourself to the arbitration of".

During one precipitation cessation (it'll catch on) an official-looking lady brought us each a questionnaire to fill in - it may have been for Sky Sports' T20 coverage - where they ask for your sporting hero and so on. One of the questions was "What is your favourite quote?" In my optimistic high-mindedness I chose a Christopher Hitchens line: "Do not seek refuge in the false security of the consensus." Looking over the shoulder of a fellow fast bowler I saw he had decided on the much more apt "Don't bowl short and wide." Needless to say, I was castigated by my team-mates for my choice until we got back onto the pitch.

Jack Shantry is a seam bowler for Worcestershire. He tweets here