World fumes over ‘sick’ cricket cruelty

Australia beat the weather by nine minutes and South Africa by a rain-affected five runs to set up a dream Twenty20 World Cup final against India at the MCG.

In a dramatic Thursday night at the SCG, Australia’s 5/134 became a target of 98 from 13 overs for South Africa, before they held them to 5/92 in a thrilling finish.

But Australia’s title defence could have been over so much earlier, with rain threatening to wash them out and send the Proteas through to the final.

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After England’s tournament had been ended without a ball bowled in their semi- final against India, Australia’ semi-final was delayed by 25 minutes. The match was then held up for another 38 minutes between innings, before players returned to the field nine minutes before play was set to be called off.

“I’m pretty relieved,” captain Meg Lanning admitted. “Just excited for the opportunity that is coming up. It wasn’t an easy day.

“We had a lot of waiting around and just hoping the weather was going to hold off.”

The cricket world was up in arms after England — who finished second in their group behind South Africa — were eliminated from the tournament without a ball being bowled in their semi-final. There are no reserve days for this World Cup, meaning there was no second chance for the Poms.

English commentator Isa Guha said it left you “with a sickness in the pit of your stomach” while ex-England skipper Michael Vaughan also lashed out.

Plenty of people said it was karma for England’s men’s team winning last year’s 50-over World Cup on a boundary countback after tying with New Zealand. But Vaughan wasn’t having it and neither were others, including English seamer Stuart Broad, who wrote on Instagram: “Why no reserve day ICC? Seems sensible.”

Aussie legend Mark Waugh tweeted it was “absolutely absurd” the ICC did not have “reserve days for finals in the biggest tournament of the year and possibly lifetime for many players”.

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All you muppets saying it’s karma,do one … At least the England men’s team had to produce skill on the day … to not have a chance to produce skill and it to be taken away by the weather is a shambles … anyway Morning everyone #T20WorldCup

This is a dark day for women’s sport and the @ICC should be ashamed of itself. To not have a reserve day for a World Cup semi-final – and to then deny a request for one – is scandalous, reckless and plain stupid. I know the countries signed up for the rules but come on…

These women who have come so far progressing international cricket deserve better. This World Cup has descended into utter farce. What a joke when this was so foreseeable. Why wouldn’t you have a reserve day for weather?

Not as surprising as ICC not scheduling reserve days for finals in the biggest tournament of the year and possibly lifetime for many players. Absolutely absurd.#commonsense

Gutted England captain Heather Knight said after her match was abandoned she hopes a reserve day is introduced for future T20 World Cup semi-finals.

Play was slated to start at 3pm AEDT in Sydney but the heavy covers remained in place at 4.08pm, when umpires gave up hope of staging an abridged contest.

The MCG final isn’t until Sunday, but the International Cricket Council failed to schedule a reserve day in case of either semi being washed out. England were eliminated from the event when Knight shook hands with India counterpart Harmanpreet Kaur, whose side topped Group A after winning all four of their pool games.

Knight was reasonably diplomatic after the farcical finish, which she dubbed “sad for the tournament”, but made it clear that no team should suffer the same fate at future World Cups.

“They’re the rules that everyone signed up to. Obviously there has been this situation and the game tonight is potentially going to be rained off as well, so you’d hope now there is going to be a rule change,” Knight told reporters.

“That moving forward, no other team will have to experience going out of a World Cup purely because of rain. Hopefully it changes. We’re frustrated.

“The weather has cost us. It’ll be nice not to have the jokes about English weather now … that’s one positive.

“It’s gutting. You put in a lot of hard work … we’re just going to have to rue that first game and try to move on, but it’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow.”

The England camp was devastated.Source:Getty Images

Kaur suggested her team planned for the prospect of a semi-final abandonment from the outset, knowing their path to the final could be determined by whether they topped Group A.

“We knew from day one at the start of the tournament that we have to win all the games,” Kaur said.

“It was very unfortunate that we didn’t get a game today but these are the rules and we can’t help it.”

Knight will attend Sunday’s final as a fan and insisted her team’s miserable exit should not take the shine off a tournament that has further progressed women’s cricket.

“You see if the money is put into publicising it that people do want to come and watch,” she said.

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