England v India, Champions Trophy, final, Edgbaston June 23, 2013

ICC must never betray fans again

The lack of a reserve day for the Champions Trophy final was a huge let-down by the ICC

So the ICC just got away with it. The rain relented, we had a final to remember, and the fans went home happy. That will be the official view. There may even be some pats on administrators' backs. But it only tells half the story.

Yes, the rain relented, yes, we had a 20-over final to savour, and yes, India, the best team in the tournament, won and their supporters celebrated long into the night.

But the administrators should not get away with it. By staging a final without a reserve day, they messed with the fans and got lucky. They should never be allowed to do so again.

The official explanation is that there were only 17 days to stage the tournament, that there was "no wriggle room", and that bilateral tours take precedence. Are fans really expected to take such an explanation seriously?

You can praise the players for contesting a fluctuating final in difficult conditions. You can listen to people intellectualising about the amount of cricket played, and how difficult it is to cram spare days into the schedule.

You can retreat into comforting jokes about the essential awfulness of the English summer and even speculate that global warming could make it more unbearable than ever. You can listen to thousands of explanations about logistics, about what is possible and what is not.

None of that matters. Do not accept any explanation that you hear. The administrators need to understand that to stage the final of a major one-day tournament without a reserve day is as purblind as it gets.

If you do something, you have to do it properly. If you tell spectators that a tournament is important, and sell TV rights and tickets on that basis, there are basic standards you have to meet to try to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion.

We can all argue incessantly about the details: about how many sides should take part, how the groups should be drawn up, whether to pre-determine semi-final venues for the countries that qualify, how to choose between sides that finish on equal points.

We can argue about one white ball or two, about numbers in circles, whether to allow runners, whether balls can be bounced in to the stumps, how many bouncers in an over.

We can philosophise about whether the Champions Trophy really matters and whether essentially we would be better without it. But not to have a reserve day in a final is nonsense.

A final is what everyone has built up to for weeks. It justifies everything that has gone before. It justifies the efforts of the players and the dreams of the fans. Not to deliver this climax turns the entire tournament into a failure.

Shakespeare did not stop writing Hamlet after four acts because he had run out of time and he had to get on with The Merry Wives of Windsor. The football World Cup in Brazil will not end at the semi-final stage if the final is suspended because of a sudden cloudburst.

Even without an official reserve day, the authorities could have cobbled one together, as the rain fell, in case it was needed, with enough will and imagination.

Only five players in England's ODI squad are in the T20 squad to face New Zealand on Tuesday at The Oval. They have already ripped out virtually the entire Ashes squad. They could have removed a few more.

If India were about to catch a flight on the 24th to the Caribbean, for a triangular tournament against Sri Lanka and West Indies, they could have changed the flight. The first game is not until the 28th.

If there were not enough stewards, employ some. If they had no bar staff, close the bars. If the ICC officials had to get back to London for a meeting, then play the game without them. Tell them the result later.

If it rains for a week then you cannot do much about it. But by not including a reserve day, the administrators lost touch with the millions of fans who keep the game alive. They must never do so again.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kannan on June 26, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    It's in the news that England is planning to levy 3000 pound sterling for every visa application from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh... because these are apparently "high risk" countries. Clearly, this is one more reason why international cricket tournaments should not be held in England. No South Asian cricket fan would want to pay a deposit of 3000 pound sterling to enter England with awful weather and watch a cricket match that invariable struggles to go its entire course!

  • vikram on June 25, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    this is one of the best articles on problem a rain can cause and the possible solutions, also i will congratulate all players to give 100% without affecting from rain.....everybody was waiting for a good entertainment of 50-50 between two best teams of best structured tournament but even after giving 10 hrs we got a start stop T20 game....so why not we should try for some BEST solution like permanent roof top like Wimbledon for atleast places for tournament finals and semifinals.....I know it may cost very heavy (640Million Pound for Wimbledon)...but it will be less than what the cricket world had paid today.....

  • Dummy4 on June 25, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    No wonder ICC coffers are poorer than the top 3 major boards. As an avid cricket fan, i'm tired of bilateral series, they number in the hundreds these days and we are tired of watching them. India taking on Srilanka again!!! Please have TEST matches of WI VS INDIA , SL VS INDIA , SL VS WI .

    Now thats a bilateral series!

  • Kevin on June 25, 2013, 0:30 GMT

    Cricketers need to harden up. Give them football boots and raincoats and tell them to get on with it. I remember looking at a pitch under 2 inches of water and people seriously suggesting we give it half an hour before making a decision. Now that's the sort of attitude that built the British empire. If there's less than half an inch of surface water, play on sir!

  • John on June 24, 2013, 22:38 GMT

    I've since heard that with the help of Courage/John Smiths/Kronenberg/Fosters and many others that ECB/ICC tried to organise an aftershow event. Unfortunately they failed and obviously it was not rescheduled

    Please publish this time - too many ill comms , not enough light humour

  • alesana on June 24, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    Totally agree with this article. This is what happens when TV money is put ahead of cricketing prestige. I don't take the 20/20 world cup seriously because of the farcical situation of having a 7 over innings per side match in the T20 world cup in Sri Lanka 2011 due to TV rights. Two years later the icc has stuck with the status quo & have almost shot themselves in the foot again! Despite this well written article, the fact that the icc has almost let this happen again does not give me confidence in future icc tournaments.

  • Jacob on June 24, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    The finals of a big tournament getting affected by rain in an era where all sorts of technology is flying around ! Totally not wise. If game and spectators are the things put first, then why not indoor cricket stadiums ? Without pushing things to their limit, it would be much much better if (just) one stadium per country supports indoor game !

    Common! Please no more on and off tempo in one match... It doesn't just bring down the mood of spectators but also the players... That's why they call it "Players are in FORM !"

  • Dummy4 on June 24, 2013, 18:55 GMT

    As a lover of crikeore thna any other game its sad to see. other sports as far as i know dont do this sort of thing. I would argue that if there is a reserve day for 20/20 finals day (i dont know one way or the other) that its some sort of conspiracy to make the masses prefer that primitive clumsy form of the game put next to the longer forms. the lack of respect for the public in this case isnt disimilar to the fact that the cricket authorities thought nothing of hose on low incomes when they sold the game down the river to sky sports...

  • H on June 24, 2013, 18:09 GMT

    From my pov cricket is dying. In 20 years only India will still be making any money and cricket will suffocate to death in all other nations from rugby, soccer and other sports.