The folly of England touring Sri Lanka during the monsoon season was exposed after just 15 overs of play in the first ODI.
Eoin Morgan’s men, who got off to a solid start of 92 for two from 15 overs, were whisked off the field before the rains came: unrelenting, plentiful and enough to see no further play.
With no reserve day scheduled – the second and fifth do, however – the onus was on leaving it as late as possible to see if conditions underfoot could improve. But with the sun long gone, soggy patches on the outfield forced the umpires to put both teams, and the hearty spectators who remained, out of their misery.
The bigger issue here is that, with the second ODI taking place at the same venue in three days time, there may not be enough time to get the outfield fit and ready. The sun will need to do the brunt of the drying work, which means the covers need to stay off for periods during the day. Further rain, of which there is some scheduled, will hamper the process.
“It’s extremely frustrating in the first game of the series,” said Morgan after the abandonment. His frustration is amplified given the wet weather England have experienced since landing in Sri Lanka at the start of the month. They were only able to fulfil one of their two warm-up matches and even that was a reduced affair. “Having played only one warm-up game, we wanted to explode and get the guys into the series.”
While there weren’t quite the usual fireworks, England had built up a good head of steam. Openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy put on 49 for the first wicket, before both were back in the pavilion with the score 51-2 after 8.4 overs. Morgan and Joe Root then put on 41 before their progress and the match itself was halted.
“It was quite competitive in the first 15 overs,” said Morgan. “The game was just starting to unfold. They took two wickets, and me and Root had just started to get something going, but I don’t think I could predict what would have happened from there.”
This is not the first time England have played in Sri Lanka’s wetter months. Morgan recalled a series in 2014 – which ended up being Alastair Cook’s last series in charge or even playing white ball cricket for his country – in which weather was expected to be similarly dire. Somehow, all seven ODIs were played with the hosts triumphing 5-2. More of the same would be most welcome.
“I remember coming here in 2014 a little bit later [during November-December], but I do remember the forecast being the same every day, and we managed to miss the rain last time.
“I’m not fearing for the series at all. We have two reserve days late in the series so we will get some form of game in and then let’s hope the weather gets better.”
“The umpires did a great job to get the whole ground covered before the rain fell, but water did displace in three or four areas and it is muddy and dangerous. Safety is paramount and the umpires made the right call.”
Meanwhile, England will add Sussex quick Chris Jordan to their squad for the one-off Twenty20 against Sri Lanka scheduled to follow this ODI series.