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Cricket news - Cricketeers in gloves and two coats
"Does anyone need an umbrella or a rain mac?" A group of Cricketeers, the volunteers who have been such a helpful and energetic presence at this World Cup, were getting briefed about their daily tasks. Some were to be inside, helping out in the media centre or the hospitality boxes. Others had a far rawer deal. They were to stand outside, in the howling wind and the incessant rain, directing people to their seats or the County Ground amenities. They all needed umbrellas and rain macs. They could have done with boats and wetsuits, too.
It rained most of Monday afternoon in Bristol. It rained most of Monday evening. Tuesday morning begun with rain. Not just drizzle. Proper English rain. Rain that seeps deep into your bones. Cold rain which chills your soul. It was the worst kind of day, English winter reprised in June. Water may have stopped falling from the sky for a time on matchday but nobody was quite sure. The gloom didn't abate once. It was Lord Byron who said, "The English winter - ending in July to recommence in August", and he was only half joking.
"For the Afghanistan, Australia match I was slapping on the factor 50," joked one Cricketeer taking cover near one of the entrances. "Now I am wearing gloves and two coats." It was the same on Friday for the game between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Out of three matches scheduled in Bristol, only the first saw any play at all. Before this tournament, there had only been two matches in the history of the World Cup to be rained off without a ball being bowled. Now there have been three in five days, two at one ground.
Plenty of people still came. Hope. It does strange things to people, makes them turn up to cricket matches in a monsoon. There were Bangladesh supporters in droves, a few Sri Lankans. There was a school trip, all the kids wearing blue hats and yellow fluorescent jackets so their teachers could keep track of them. The children were given those plastic things that make a clapping sound when you shake them. For a time, they sat in their seats and waved them about, making a noise, their teachers desperately looking for a way to keep them entertained in the absence of any cricket.
That particular dose of fun lasted about two and a half minutes. Then the kids realised it was raining and they were cold. The teachers quickly took them off again to find some shelter. It was not the school trip any of them had planned.
At the Ashley Down Road End entrance, a band of drummers played, welcoming those who turned up. People moved to the beat. As much as the band's rhythmic drumming contributed, people were moving to stay warm too. It was that sort of day.
One Bangladeshi fan had travelled all the way from Seattle, in the United States, to support his team during the World Cup. He had seen the game against England in Cardiff and was going to Taunton for the match against Afghanistan on Monday, too. He'd never been to the UK before. On this evidence, he might not want to come back. "I'm used to this kind of weather," he said. "Seattle can get much colder than this. Anyway, nice chatting. I'm off to get out of the rain."
There were lots of tales like this, lots of people who travelled long distances to watch their team only to be frustrated by the weather. Some had come from up north, others from London. There were locals too of course. On Friday, a Pakistani supporter arrived in Bristol in the nick of time for the start of the match, having jumped straight off a plane from Karachi, on to a train and to the ground. It was the one game he had tickets for.
There are no reserve days in this tournament. Logistically, it would be a significant challenge to factor those into the schedule with nine group games for each side and much moving around the country to take place. However, after the match was formally abandoned, both Steve Rhodes, Bangladesh's head coach, and Dimuth Karunaratne, Sri Lanka's captain, said they would have preferred reserve days to be in place.
"We have got quite a lot of time in between games, and if we have got to travel a day later, then so be it," Rhodes said. "We put men on the moon so why can't we have a reserve day? Actually this tournament is a long tournament. They are spread out, the games. It's disappointing for the crowd as well. They have got tickets to see a game of cricket and it would be up to them if they can get there the day after."
It is a point the ICC will no doubt have to answer in due course, particularly if the forecast remains poor for the next few days, putting the matches in Taunton and Nottingham on Wednesday and Thursday at risk.
After the abandonment was formally announced over the tannoy, just before 2pm, nobody was surprised. The only surprise was that it had taken that long. Some hardy souls stayed in the stands, trying to soak up - excuse the pun - any last piece of World Cup experience they could. Others milled round the pavilion in the hope of an autograph or a selfie with some of the players. Tamim Iqbal briefly appeared on the balcony which elicited a big cheer from the Bangladeshi supporters below. He flashed a smile.
Despite the rain, despite the cold and the wind, there were still a fair few smiles on show. Many were wry smiles, bemoaning the wet English weather. Others were making the best of a bad lot. There weren't too many grumbles around. As one cricketeer said: "We still greet people with a smile, still put our best faces on." On a day like today, what else can you do?
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