Cricket will revamp its controversial wet weather rules in a move which could save the World Cup final at the MCG.
The long-range forecast is looking bleak for both Sunday night’s final and Monday’s reserve day, and despite calls for Melbourne’s indoor Marvel Stadium to be activated as an emergency replacement option, switching venues is a logistical impossibility which can’t and won’t happen.
However, pragmatic local ICC World Cup organisers have looked to take what could prove a crucial step in tinkering with its own playing conditions, to do everything to make sure millions around the world will not be disappointed, and a rightful World Cup winner is crowned – rather than the trophy being shared.
Usually there are strict time restrictions on how long a match can be paused for before it is abandoned, but News Corp understands that Monday’s reserve day could stretch from its scheduled 3pm start time well into the night to ensure a match can be played.
The change is yet to be officially ratified but looks to have the support of teams and officials.
Sunday is looking particularly severe with a medium to high chance of showers and even storms forecast in Melbourne.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Monday is much more positive, with only a couple of millimeters predicted and rain becoming even less likely in the evening.
And this is where the World Cup’s grand plan comes into play as a potentially genius ploy to ward off disaster.
It means that if the reserve day is needed, Pakistan and their opponents might be sitting around for hours to get on the field in the event of afternoon rain – but the frustrating prospect of the stumps being pulled at 7pm only for the rain to suddenly cease will be avoided.
Organisers will exhaust all the time they possibly can to ensure a match is played – with a minimum of 10 overs a side needed to complete a final.
In addition, News Corp has confirmed MCG curators will use extra covers over the weekend to give the field the maximum chance of weathering the downfall predicted during the day on Sunday and still be capable of a quick start if the clouds clear.
Sources stress that the abandoned Australia and England group match at the MCG was due to rain rather than wet patches on the ground, but there was criticism from ex-players including Michael Vaughan and Mark Waugh that the MCG staff hadn’t covered the entire playing surface (instead of just the wicket square) given the magnitude of the downfall.
Extra precautions will be taken to ensure the final can get off the ground in its scheduled time slot of 7pm Sunday, with the match almost a sell-out already, and the prospect of all-out pandemonium breaking out should India make the final.
Limited tickets remain, with standing room tickets to be released ahead of the final. Tickets will roll on to the Monday back-up day if required, with punters entitled to a full refund if they can’t turn up on the Monday.
A Pakistan and India rematch at the MCG could prove one of the most globally watched sporting events in recent history.
A lot of people are scratching their heads as to why Marvel Stadium – an indoor venue across town in Melbourne isn’t on standby.
But the reality is Marvel is still yet to have its drop-in pitch laid, meaning it wouldn’t be ready to host a cricket final even if it was logistically possible to reallocate tickets from the MCG at the 11th hour.
Marvel hosted a motor cross event two weeks ago and will host a University graduation in the coming weeks before the pitch is prepared for the Big Bash.
Fox Cricket expert Waugh welcomed the addition of extra covers but said putting Marvel Stadium on standby when the World Cup returns in 2028 might be a sensible idea.
“Common sense says in Melbourne, you’ve got a ground that’s got a roof on it, so it could easily be a back-up plan,” said Waugh.
“The ICC probably should have had the Marvel Stadium as a back-up on the second day at least, the reserve day.
“I think in Australia we need to work on the coverage of our grounds though. There’s no way that England and Australia game should have not been able to start because of some wet patches near the ground.
“Maybe something needs to be looked at as far as the (use of covers) at our big venues in Australia.”
Originally published as How T20 World Cup plans to avoid final washout, reserve day rules