Pro 40 Div One - Horsham: Worcestershire (244-5, 40 overs, 1pt), Sussex 52-2, 9.3 overs, 1pt). No result (match abandoned, rain)
Those who can capture the essence of a problem in a few simple words are a rare and special breed.
Wordsmiths who can do so with wit and light comic touch are even harder to find and, often, as is their wont, prefer anonymity to celebrity.
With that in mind, the man who wryly described Pro40 cricket as: ‘Twenty20 except twice as long and with half the excitement’, could have been on to something, especially given the farce that unfolded at Horsham on Sunday.
The players went off after 9.3 overs of the Sussex innings for what was, at worst, a light drizzle. They never returned because the rain worsened, which was fair enough, but the fact that only three balls were all that was required to have the contest deemed a ‘match’ meant that the sorry conclusion left a bitter taste in the mouths of all concerned, not least for the supporters who had travelled three hours to watch their side.
What made it particularly galling for Worcestershire was that they would almost certainly have won seeing as they were 18 runs ahead after Applied Mathematics, otherwise known as the Duckworth/Lewis method, had calculated Sussex’s required target as 63.
Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire’s director of cricket, said: “I felt the umpires were harsh to bring us off at that stage. There was still a game to be had and the weather was not that bad. It’s up to Sussex to get to our Duckworth/Lewis total - that’s the whole point of it.
“I was also disappointed that the Sussex coach [Mark Robinson] got involved with the decision-making when we were getting ready to go back on. That’s not his business. We are not allowed to question the ground conditions.”
This match would have been called off, anyway, but such decisions will do little to help attract supporters to grounds.
That is not the only problem Pro40 faces, though. The creative minds employed by the England and Wales Cricket Board tasked with establishing this competition are in an unenviable position. They can dress it up any way they like but no amount of trendy re-brands and catchy slogans can obscure the fact that it has a parlous future in the short term, which is unfortunate.
Television rights have been negotiated for the World Cup - 50-over format - until 2015 and with the county championship and Twenty20 all jostling for space in a crammed calendar, Pro40 is like a mother-in-law who has outstayed her welcome at Christmas.
Potentially, of course, it could be the most intriguing format of them all, striking a pleasing balance between the best elements of Twenty20 and traditional one-day cricket.
That was fleetingly evident here.
Having lost the toss, Vikram Solanki scored 69 off 48 balls (12 fours, one six) before he was brilliantly caught behind by Matthew Prior.
Sadly for the wicketkeeper his excellent catch was only making up for an earlier calamity - he dropped Solanki on 22 - and preceded the sort of childish gesture to a heckler in the crowd which revealed the petulant side to his character which won him few admirers during his hitherto brief international career.
Worcestershire’s total of 244 was below par by about 30, according to the locals, and would have been much further adrift of respectability had it not been for the the sterling batting of Gareth Batty (42 not out, 46 balls, two fours, one six) and Daryl Mitchell (53, 58 balls, five fours).
The majority failed to deliver. Stephen Moore was run out for nought after Dwayne Smith, the West Indian, swept at cover and threw down the stumps and Moeen Ali, returning after a profitable spell in the Birmingham League, wafted at one and edged to slip. Luke Wright, with four for 56, was the pick of the Sussex bowling.
Prior (22, 19 balls, four fours, one six) looked the part as Sussex’s reply got under way. His crisp six over extra cover smashed a pavilion window, which he soon got to see close up after flicking Kabir Ali to short mid-wicket where Graeme Hick’s buckets were waiting. It was a foolish error seeing as Hick had only been moved there the ball before.