Over the last week or so, two Test matches – one at Kingsmead in Durban and the other at Queen’s Park in Port of Spain – have been washed out due to rain.
Both the matches were scheduled in the middle of rainy seasons in these two countries.
In August in Trinidad is the second wettest month of the year, while conversely, August is the driest month in Durban.
The match between West indies and India became the third shortest non-abandoned Test in history when the pay was called off pay at 9.30 am on the fifth morning.
The entire match consisted of just 22 overs which were bowled in the opening session before the rain started to fall.
By the time the play was to start on the second day, the skies had cleared and they remained so for the next four days, yet, not another over was bowled.
Despite three successive days of sunshine, the fifth days was called off before the scheduled start time. Queens Park Oval is considered one of the best venues in the Caribbean. That being the case, you wouldn’t want to see the others.
Clearly, the drainage at ground does not meet 21st century standards. No ground in several other countries would ever see four days abandoned because of rain on an opening day.
Compounding the issues in Trinidad was the fact that there was no ‘super sopper’ at the stadium, and the ground staff had failed to cover the entirety of the bowlers’ run-ups.
While the pitch was fit for play, the outfield remained unsuitable for four days.
In Durban, it was also the outfield that was the problem when rain fell after stumps on Day 2, leaving no further play possible despite no further showers.
Like the Test in Trinidad, the call to abandon the Durban match was taken before the start of the final day.
In both cases, it was only the pitches that were covered, with the vast bulk of the outfield left exposed to the elements of nature.
Contrast that with the recent Test series between Sri Lanka and Australia, where ground staff pretty much covered the entire ground when rain fell. Such actions are pretty much standard practice in the subcontinent.
Of a possible 900 overs across the Tests in South Africa and Trinidad, a mere 122 were realized. That is totally unacceptable.
Broadcasters pay millions of dollars in rights fees to telecast the game and give over block programming to cover the sport.
Test cricket is perennially under siege from not only the shorter forms of the game, especially T20 but also another sporting codes. Maintaining interest levels and ground patronage is not helped when grounds have substandard surfaces or lack the necessary manpower and equipment to ensure play can continue.
The introduction of many franchise-based T20 leagues around the world has forced Test cricket to schedule series at non-traditional times of the year. This makes it imperative that the grounds are weather-proofed as best can be.
Test cricket, like few other sports, is at the mercy of weather gods.
For it to survive, it needs to be governed more stringently. It is about time the ICC place mandatory requirements for associations who wish to host matches.
Modern and effective drainage, along with an appropriate level of ancillary equipment and manpower must be mandatory to save the Test cricket.