Rain wrecks game after Ben Duckett’s maiden ODI ton
England claimed a 1-0 ODI series win against Ireland in farcical circumstances after the third ODI at Bristol was abandoned 31 overs into the first innings due to rain, with water also getting onto the pitch.
England had reached 280 for 4, with Ben Duckett striking a maiden ODI ton to build on a fast start by Phil Salt, who blitzed 61 off 28 at the top of the order, before the rain arrived during the drinks break at 2.48pm. After a brief pause to see if it would pass, the umpires decided to call on the groundstaff.
There was a further issue when the covers were caught in the wind leaving the pitch exposed, before the three mobile covers came on from Ashley Down Road End. The tractor dragging the covers ended up driving down what would have been just outside off stump for a right-hander batting from the Pavilion End. There was also a delay in closing the gaps between the covers allowing the rain to get onto the playing surface.
Members of the groundstaff then had to squeeze under the covers where they were passed mats to towel down the damaged areas at both ends. Standing umpire Paul Reiffel and third umpire Rod Tucker emerged with reserve umpire David Millns at around 3.15pm to survey the damage. After looking under the covers, and assessing the standing water on the square, the decision was made to call off the match at 3.21pm. The rain relented five minutes later.
An overnight deluge had saturated the outfield, but although play did get underway on time at 12.30pm, fears the ground could not take any more rain were eventually realised.
“It caught everyone by surprise,” Zak Crawley, England’s captain for this series, said. “The ground was already a bit wet this morning after the rain that happened last night, so it didn’t need a lot more rain to get abandoned like that. And obviously a lot of rain fell in not a long space of time.
“I went on the outfield just now and it was soaking wet as well. I think it was all unfit.”
Ireland skipper Paul Stirling echoed those sentiments, having initially hoped the delay would allow his side to turn their fortunes around after a chastening start in the field.
“I think we were all pretty happy when the rain came, but we weren’t quite expecting it to end the game,” he said. “We thought we might get a bit of a break or a bit of a rest and try and regroup and come out there and change it up a little bit. But no, we weren’t expecting the game to be called off.
“We were having a bit of a joke in the dressing room, I think we’re more used to it in Ireland because there is more rain probably. We haven’t really come across that in England where it was so sudden. We wanted to get out there.”
This was the fourth consecutive men’s ODI abandoned at Bristol, following a 2021 no-result against Sri Lanka and two of their three 2019 World Cup matches (Pakistan versus Sri Lanka and Bangladesh versus Sri Lanka) washed out without a ball being bowled. Gloucestershire chief executive Will Brown lamented what he regarded as an unavoidable situation given the volume of rain in the last 24 hours.
“We always had the sense that if we had something similar to last night, 20-30 minutes of rain could be what killed it off. You can see all along the bottom of the square the water is running off in big puddles.
“It is just gutting. We’ve had our fair share of rain offs such as in World Cups and you wonder if we give it a bit longer maybe it can dry out, but it is what it is. The umpires and the match ref know what they are doing, the ground staff are working their backsides off to get it right.”
Brown defended the response from the ground staff, who struggled to fully cover the pitch and surrounding areas in challenging conditions.
“It was hard conditions for them. You could see by how the covers were moving that it was pretty tough for them. It is one thing getting the covers on speedily, but in those conditions it is a different ball game altogether. They were certainly heavy and wet from this morning.
“No one wants to see a match end in that way and we are just collectively gutted for a season-ender for English cricket like that and a season-ender for Gloucestershire in Bristol.
“The conditions last night were shocking. The covers were heavy and wet, and they were trying to move them in tough conditions. It was blowing a hooley, which makes it a lot harder to move. I think they did and admirable job in difficult circumstances.”
In what play was possible, England had been given a bumper start by Salt on his way to his country’s fourth-fastest half-century in the format, from 22 deliveries. He crashed three fours and a six off Mark Adair in the first four balls of the match, with 19 off the first over and, thanks to his 87-run stand with Will Jacks, 100 up after eight overs – both England records in this format.
Duckett had brought up three figures with a six over wide long-off from his 72nd delivery, the penultimate ball of the 30th over. And though Sam Hain fell to Craig Young – the most impressive Irish bowler on show with 3 for 31 – at the end of the next over, Duckett had a shot at becoming England’s first double-centurion and, in turn, the team an outside chance of beating their world-record ODI score of 498 for 8, made against Netherlands last year. Neither got the chance to play out.
It was a tough debut for Ireland’s left-arm spinner Theo van Woerkom, who conceded 47 runs in his four overs. That included having his last four balls hit for 16 by Duckett to bring up England’s 250 after 27 overs. Van Woerkom did at least emerge from the wreckage with a maiden wicket when Crawley scythed a wide delivery to third after bringing up his maiden ODI fifty.
However, for the second time in the series the rain curtailed any prospects of a result. With more than 30 overs of play achieved, spectators were not entitled to a refund.
“It worries me greatly that this is a sign of things to come,” Brown said, looking ahead to next summer with Bristol due to host an ODI between England and Australia on September 29.
“We’ve got a lot of cricket being played in September next year and with climate change we’ve seen heavy rain in June and July, and I think the game needs to be thinking innovatively about how we get games on or prepare pitches and surfaces using different things to get cricket away.”
England 280 for 4 in 31 overs (Ben Duckett 107*, Phil Salt 61, Zak Crawley 51; Craig Young 3-31) vs Ireland – Match abandoned