Kent had to settle for a sharing of the points in their first 2020 T20 Blast game against Hampshire, despite being well on top when rain forced an abandonment.
The Daniel Bell-Drummond-led side were 52-0 after 4.1 overs in pursuit of Hampshire’s 139 when play was halted, with Matt Milnes having starred with the ball, taking 3-19, and Zak Crawley and Bell-Drummond having blazed away in response.
A minimum of five overs must be played out by the chasing side to reach a result under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, meaning a no result was the final outcome. However, with Kent ahead not just of the five-over par score – 26-0 – but also of what their target would have been had the umpires decreed the minimum possible six-over game could take place – 40 – the interpretation of the DLS rules came under the microscope again, as it did in a washed-out T20I between Australia and Pakistan in 2019.
Had a resumption been possible, Kent, already ahead of what the recalculated target would have been, wouldn’t have had to retake the field to chase down any runs. The farcical situation can be summed up as follows: reaching a result hinged on whether conditions improved enough for play to be possible, even though no more play was actually required to reach a result.
What’s more, this isn’t a new issue. Almost two years ago, before Steven Stern joined the twosome, Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis flagged up the problem in a piece for ESPNcricinfo, after Australia were eliminated from the 2017 Champions Trophy in similar circumstances.
Their argument was that revised numbers of overs and targets should be calculated on a fluid basis, as a delay is in progress and time is being lost, rather than on a static basis, only decided when a resumption time is settled upon. When a team’s current score exceeded what would be the target score should play resume as soon as possible from that moment, they would be judged to have won the game. The pair also argued it would only take a reinterpretation of standard playing conditions, rather than a rewriting, to resolve the problem.