It is the climax of the Women's County Championship. Three teams are fighting it out for top spot. Just 0.5 of an average point (don't ask!) separates the teams. In a recent piece I wrote that the I hoped that the cancelled games from the previous week involving those three teams would not decide the Championship. But it seems that they probably will.
One had hoped that the lessons had been learned from the 2012 season where Essex qualified for the play-offs after playing just two of their league games and declining to play others that had been cancelled. But it seems not. The league rules have not been tightened up.
Kent, who sit top of the league, were due to play Berkshire two weekends ago, but the game was called off due to rain. It seems that game will not now be played. On the same day Sussex had travelled all the way to Harrogate only to watch the rain fall. Following the Royal London Women's One Day Cup Rules and Regulations, Sussex (currently third) requested that the game be replayed before the cut-off date of 28th September. Yorkshire (currently second) have declined due to the non-availability of some of their players. In the circumstances you would think that they would therefore forfeit the game and that Sussex would take full points (10 for the win and a full 8 bonus points).
But you would be wrong. "For a match to be rearranged both counties need to agree to
replay it. In the event that they do not agree to replay, the original result
of a cancelled fixture remains." This is the official line from the ECB. Is this really right?
If you scour through the Rules and Regs you won't find anything to contradict this. In fact you will find nothing in the rules that deals with this situation at all. Basically if it suits you not to play a cancelled game, then there is no obligation on you to make any effort to sort it out at all, and no penalty for your choosing not to do so. Quite why the rules bother to state that "If the home side is unable to find a suitable venue then the away team shall be offered the opportunity to host the match" is baffling. If the home side simply do not want to play then they can simply say "no thanks".
So that leaves the games that are due to be played this weekend as the last games of the season. Quite simply Yorkshire know that if they beat bottom of the table Lancashire and get 7 or 8 bonus points then they will win the league. They know that if they were to play their cancelled game with Sussex and lose then they would have no chance of winning the league, and Sussex's chances would be enhanced, if they also scored more than 15 points. It seems it is a risk Yorkshire are not prepared to take, so they have simply refused to play.
As for Sussex, there seems to be nothing that they can do. If they beat Berkshire on Sunday and take full points then they will be level with Kent at the top of the league, but Yorkshire will be able to pass them too with 17/18 points from their last game.
And if it rains on Sunday, or Yorkshire or Sussex don't win with enough points, then Kent will be the champions. All in all not a desperately satisfactory way to end women's cricket's premier competition.