Raining on the T20 parade
There are a couple of slippery slopes that will present themselves shortly in Sri Lanka to any unsuspecting team that has not done its homework adequately. Having travelled to the land of the big wide smile on numerous occasions over the past few years I can assure you that hazards will be omnipresent for a cricket tournament. “Look skywards,” would be my advice, because weather conditions need to be heeded.
The weather in September generally doesn’t raise too many eyebrows but things change quite dramatically come October. The temperature in Sri Lanka year round is fairly consistent at about 30 degrees Celsius and, at times, Colombo is extremely humid. I have in fact rarely experienced more testing conditions anywhere than in Colombo and for those individuals who are not prepared, be warned now. The uncomfortable humidity saps all energy and it ramps up considerably at night when the sun sets and artificial stadium lights take over.
These extreme conditions should not derail a professional outfit such is the preparation these days, but I do remember a decade ago during the ICC Champions Trophy in 2002 when South Africa crashed and burned. They were adversely affected by heat exhaustion and cramps and failed to chase down a moderate total of 261 posted by India in their semifinal. The Proteas were coasting at 192-1 when centurion Herschelle Gibbs retired hurt with heat exhaustion, a collapse ensued, and they fell 10 runs short.
In September the rainfall is not generally excessive, but as Sri Lanka is an island with a tropical climate, it will get its fair share. Prior to September the Lankans will have suffered colossal deluges from the first season of monsoon rains to many areas, sometimes up to 250 centimetres per month. Storms will sweep through in September but be sure to keep your umbrella close in October as solid rain arrives.
October sees the start of the second season of monsoon rains as October and November are the intermonsoonal months. October is the second heaviest month of the year for rainfall in Colombo and that is where the sharp end of the event will be contested. The weather in October can be severe and tropical cyclones have been known to be unwelcome guests. Cast your mind back to the aforementioned Champions Trophy, which was scheduled at the same time of the year in Sri Lanka in 2002. That final between Sri Lanka and India was eventually cancelled and the trophy disappointingly shared following two consecutive days of bucketing rain.
Throughout the ICC World T20 expect precipitation and its knockon effects to inhibit performance. Then acknowledge that the Duckworth-Lewis calculation method will be used, and understand that in this format, it is inadequate. Recognise also that when a game is delayed by inclement weather, five overs per team constitute a match, and then the outcome basically becomes a lottery.
Then ask … Why Sri Lanka at this time?