In the recently concluded Test series between England and Sri Lanka, which the host country won 1–0, all but two of the fifteen days scheduled saw no rain. As one wag noted, it was amazing that cricket was invented in a country where rain is such a constant in life. A total of more than 350 overs (or 2,100 balls) were lost, which not only meant that vast amounts of time weren’t available for one team to beat the other, but that spectators were deprived of almost four full days’ worth of play. Unlike in baseball, you can’t hold a rematch of a five-day Test game when it rains—the scheduling won’t permit it. You also can’t fiddle with the scores and the number of balls bowled to work out a new goal for a victory, as you can in one-day cricket. You just have to call it a draw (no team wins or loses), and move on.
Of course, all that rain might have been avoided if the English Cricket Board had confined Test cricket to the English summer and not have games played in June and even May, which Shakespeare noted could be full of “rough winds.” True, most grounds now have floodlights that allow play to continue even if it gets dark and cloudy (and doesn’t rain), and you can make up some of the balls lost by ending later the next day, or day after that, etc. But it don’t mean a thing if it rains, and Wimbledon’s answer of covered roofs would be prohibitively expensive, given the much greater expanse of a cricket field.
Unfortunately, cricket authorities don’t make Test cricket any more attractive by holding rigidly to schedule breaks, even when the sun is shining, or bringing the play to an end for the day, despite the fact that in June in England the sun doesn’t set until past nine p.m. Something’s gotta give, because Test cricket is already challenged enough for (lack of a) crowd presence, without the rain washing the few remaining stalwarts away.