The autumn equinox has gone, and the summer’s a memory already, but the cricket season lingers on. The short, strange season will end sometime this weekend when T20 Finals Day wraps up at Edgbaston.
On Saturday Surrey are due to play Gloucestershire in the first semi-final at 11am, Lancashire play Nottinghamshire in the second at 2.30pm, and the winners meet in the final at 6.45pm. That already makes it the latest finish to an English season in more than 150 years. But the weather forecast is so bad that it seems likely it will stretch on longer again, into Sunday. It would be the first time in 17 years that the T20 Finals have gone into the reserve day.
The rearranged season meant the England and Wales Cricket Board had little choice except to schedule these games so late this time around, it’s harder to understand why it would want to do it again in 2021, when the five-day County Championship final has reportedly been pencilled in to start on 2 October. In the English year October has the highest average rainfall, and more rainy days than any other month but January.
If the forecast is right it will at least be an exciting weekend for the T20 technical committee, who will have the job of rearranging the overs and timings if there are any interruptions. The reserve day would be is a last resort. The regulations mean the technical committee are bound to will try to complete the three matches on the first day, even if they have to reduce them to five-overs per side. Then, in descending order of priority, they are also supposed to ensure there is a 20-over-a-side final under floodlights, that both semi-finals are of the same length and that, within each match, both teams have the opportunity to bat the same number of overs.
Failing that, there’s Sunday to play with. Unfortunately, the weather is not supposed to be that much better. Which means there is a possibility the competition could yet end up being settled by a bowl-out late on Sunday evening, five players from each side get two deliveries each, and whoever hits the wickets most often wins. Failing that, the semi-finals will be decided on a coin toss, and the trophy will be shared by the two finalists.
Well, whatever happens it seems certain that there is going to be an unexpected twist or two left in the season yet. After the year we’ve had, it would be a surprise if there weren’t.