As early as 10:35 am on Monday morning, all roads were leading out of the Country Ground in Bristol as the predicted rain that started last night just refused to go away. It was never a downpour, just mostly a pesky, light drizzle with not much fluctuation in its intensity.
In its consistency, it matched India’s performance (or the lack of it) since the second Test at Lord’s about five weeks ago. At 1:30 pm, the dreaded announcement finally came: The first one-day international of the five-match series was completely submerged in the puddles on the covers and the ground.
In the process, the rain also drowned, one small drop at a time, the hopes of spectators, who turned up in large numbers on what was a Summer Bank Holiday to watch what was to be the first ODI in four years at this historic but significantly less favoured venue of the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Better luck next time
Matthew from Essex, for example, was not a happy man. He was hoping to sell Indian flags (exclusively) and scarves outside the ground, complained about the not-so-brisk business in the rain. He hoped for better luck at Cardiff.
Not everyone was complaining, though. The bars, beer halls and coffee shops within and around the stadium made hay while the sun didn’t shine. As there is no roof on the stands at this venue, the spectators, needing one above their head, made their way to the restaurants and pubs. For, understandably, a pint of cider or a cup of flat white with a sausage baguette made the prospect of an actionless day slightly more palatable.
Towards the end of a soggy and sorry day, however, there was some unexpected good news, which made many fans flock the ticket counter at the stadium. The hosts of the next game, Glamorgan, announced that the ticket holders for the first match could exchange their pass, free of cost, to see the second one-dayer at the Sofia Gardens in Cardiff on Wednesday. But the first-come-first-serve basis of the offer meant those patient types who left the ground last benefited the most.
“We welcome a large number of supporters from Bristol and the South West of England to games in Cardiff every year so it seems the sensible option to help fans by providing them with the opportunity to watch the England v India match they’ve already paid to see,” Hugh Morris, Glamorgan chief executive, was quoted as saying.
Only the forecast for Cardiff on Wednesday isn’t too encouraging either. Meanwhile, there was another set of ‘spectators’ who were itching to play this match.The Indian team were hoping to quickly put the awful Test series behind with a better show at the ODIs. The mood in the camp has been resembling the weather outside and a good start to the limited-overs leg — supposedly their strong point — would have somewhat lifted the pall of gloom. They will now have to wait two more days for that chance.
But one may even choose to look at the brighter side. At least, they go into the second game on an equal footing with England.