The second Twenty20 International between India and the West Indies in Florida has been called off on account of poor weather. This, or something to this effect, was the message that trickled across the screen on host broadcaster Star Sports sometime around 11.40 pm IST on Sunday. It is such a straight and simple announcement when taken at face value, which most viewers in India would have before switching off their television sets and calling it a night. It was, however, not even half the truth.

Yes, it did rain in Florida, but according to ESPNcricinfo, the duration was “around 20 minutes”. The real reason for the match being abandoned was that the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground, Lauderhill, did not have a Super Sopper. So, while the pitch and the outfield dried quickly, there were puddles around the bowlers’ run-up areas that did not dry. And so, after multiple inspections, the umpires decided to call of the match an hour after the rain had stopped, at 2 pm local time.

Cricket has always been a game played under open skies and, throughout its nearly 140-year-old international history, has always been at the mercy of rain. In the last week alone, two Test matches in two different parts of the world were washed away with just about a day’s play possible in either game. But the difference between those two games and this T20 match played in Florida was that the latter could have easily avoided its no-result ending.

'Development of cricket'?

When the International Cricket Council sanctioned the organisation of this two-match T20I series in Florida, Chief Executive David Richardson said that they believe these matches “can play a significant role in the long-term development of cricket in the USA” and that the sanction fees “will be invested into the ICC’s ongoing work to lay a sustainable foundation for the development of cricket in America”.

If the ICC was indeed serious about spreading the game in the US, could it not have ensured that a basic requirement such as a Super Sopper was available at the ground, knowing the weather forecast? Should this not be a mandate at every cricket ground hosting international matches?

This wasn’t even the only farcical event of the day. Start of play had been delayed by 40 minutes because of what Star Sports said were “technical reasons”. The broadcaster, nor the officials at the venue, did not specify what these technical glitches were, only saying that the delay was “unavoidable”. A source at Star Sports said that “there was a problem with the live feed which took half an hour to rectify and 10 minutes to test”.

In such a scenario, could the match have gone ahead as per schedule, with the television feed delayed? After paying Rs 34.2 crore for the broadcast rights of the series, it was unlikely this would happen. In the end, those lost 40 minutes turned out to be instrumental in affecting the result, or in this case, the lack of one. India had batted for two overs in the second innings when the rain started. For a match to be awarded by the Duckworth-Lewis method, a minimum of five overs need to have been played. If the match had started on time, at least 10 would have been bowled and there would have been a result.

Even though they were glorified exhibition games, the series, played in a country with minimal interest in the sport, was meant to lure new spectators. The first match of the series would have done just that, with a record aggregate of 489 runs being scored. Unfortunately, “technical glitches” and unpreparedness robbed the fans of more action. The saddest part is that it was all easily avoidable.