The poor weather over the second Bank Holiday weekend has again thrown into the spotlight some anomalies in the rules in the Women's County Championship, which have not really been ironed out following the 2012 season when Essex made it through to the then County Championship play-off final, having played only two games against Notts and Yorkshire.
The first issue is that cancelled games - ie games where there has been no play can be replayed - even if they have not been cancelled until both teams are at the ground and have hung around for five hours fruitlessly waiting for the wicket to dry out. Whereas abandoned games - ie any game that has started but has failed to finish (ie the side batting second has failed to bat 20 overs) cannot be replayed. I fail to understand the logic of this.
The second issue is that no points are awarded for a cancelled game - that I understand. However 5 points AND the bonus points are awarded for an abandoned game. If these were allowed to count towards the average number of points per game, which is the deciding factor for league positions, then a team's season could be scuppered. A win with full batting and bowling bonus points is 18 points (10, plus 4 and 4). The maximum a team could get for an abandoned game is 13 points, although full batting and bowling points are unlikely as one innings at least would be less than 20 overs. The simple solution, which has been applied is to ignore any points from abandoned games, but that begs the question the question why award them at all? All it does is make a complete mess of the league tables on the Play Cricket website - Sussex currently average 20 points per game apparently (for accurate tables see here).
The third issue is the shortening of games. The rules basically state that provided both teams bat 20 overs this constitutes a game. The scenario where this could occur almost happened on Sunday between Berks and Sussex. The pitch was wet, but the weather fine. The teams sat around waiting for the pitch to dry. Had it done so then they would have played a 20/20. This competition is the Women's County Championship not the Women's T20 trophy. In my opinion 50 over cricket and T20 cricket are very different beasts and should not be confused. I would suggest that 35 overs per side is the minimum that should constitute a game.
There is a fourth issue which arises from shortened games and that is the lack of opportunity to acquire bonus points, particularly bowling bonus points. A team is far less likely to get 9 wickets (needed for a full 4 points) in 20 overs than they are in 50 overs. They are therefore penalised for playing a shortened game.
And finally there is a fifth issue, again from a shortened game, which is the fact that if the game is started and it rains the side batting second has a huge advantage. Runs Per Over (RPO) is the crude calculation used to adjust the score that the side batting second must score to win in the limited number of overs available. A side batting first may score 200 in their 50 overs (4 RPO). If it rains at tea and the second innings is reduced to 20 overs they only have to score 81 to win in 20 overs with all their batsmen allowed to bat. It is a huge advantage. Duckworth Lewis is the answer, but it seems this is too complex. Perhaps a simpler solution would be to reduce the number of batsmen allowed to bat in the second innings along the lines of 8 if 20+ overs; 9 if 30+ overs; 10 if 40+ overs.
Let's hope the rest of the season is sunny!!