Sixty-eight hours is almost enough time to develop a habit and break it. It’s enough time to think you have coronavirus and find out that you don’t. But you do have three outstanding bills.
Or maybe you’re an international cricketer. In a 68-hour window, you could play a couple of one-dayers. Hell, you could almost jam in a whole Test match these days. If not, you could do media. Or shoot another ad, another promo. Or you could ham it up a bit for that fly on the wall.
Or maybe you’re an international female cricketer, in a team still in the running to win a World Cup, and your semi-final has just been washed out without a ball bowled. This was England’s fate on Thursday, and so very nearly Australia’s too, until the capricious weather gods opened up the smallest of windows.
No matter, you might, think because there were and are 68 hours between the last scheduled ball on semi-final day and the first in the final, which is plenty of time to reschedule. By our rudimentary maths, that’s time enough for nearly 23 T20 games, and you only need one.
It’s not so hard to work out, because the essence and supposed virtue of T20 cricket is that it doesn’t take very long to play, and the minute it begins to overrun its allocated time, your team begins to incur penalties.
Broadcasters, on the other hand, can take all the time they like, even if it means you’re standing around like a lost lemon, twiddling your thumbs while the scoreboard screen counts down and the the clouds roll in and sky dims and you think there’s not a minute to be lost, but you’re just a player. You have to know your place.
As it happens, in that 68-hour sprawl, there is officially no time even for one extra make-up match. It couldn’t be played the next day, without a drop of rain in sight, or the next day again, or even early Sunday, the day of the final.
In 68 hours, it couldn’t be transferred to another city with, say, a 50k stadium with a pitch, a roof and a vacancy. The AFL just shifted a match from one country to another, but the ICC couldn’t move one down the highway.
Imagine if it were the men. Actually, we don’t have to imagine. In last year’s 50-over World Cup in England, there were reserve days for both semis. It’s how New Zealand got through. A 50-over match takes eight hours, compared with three for a T20, but time was found. The final became a different exposition of cricket’s unique bent for arcania.
Reportedly, the men’s T20 World Cup in Australia later this year has made provision for emergency days. That proves only that two wrongs make a greater wrong.
Now that the calamity that dared not speak its name has been averted, and England are out and Australia are through and the MCG is being tarted up for the final, contemplations of this near farce will be muted in this country. We’re good forgetters.
But on another front, vile trolls are still howling at footballers at the Herald Sun gates – and kudos to that paper for shutting them out – and it is hard not to think that for all the gains sportswomen have made in the past couple of years and the past couple of weeks in particular, men while muttering platitudes still withhold genuine and unconditional respect.
Now, will you excuse me? I’ve got 48 more hours of nothing to do, so I’d better knuckle down.
Greg Baum is chief sports columnist and associate editor with The Age.