TO lose one showpiece one-day international to rain in the space of five years is unfortunate.
To lose two in that period is extremely unlucky.
But to lose three in that time is the cricketing equivalent of walking under a ladder and tripping over a black cat.
Such was the fate that befell Yorkshire yesterday, when their run of one-day international washouts continued.
After hours of heavy and relentless rain, the game between England and Australia – which had been due to start at 10.15am – was officially called off at 1.30pm.
For the smattering of spectators who had turned up optimistically in the hope of play, it was akin to going to Lapland with the expectation of seeing the real Santa Claus.
There was never any chance of cricket and, despite the estimable efforts of the Yorkshire groundstaff, umpires Aleem Dar and Richard Illingworth finally emerged from the rain-lashed Carnegie Pavilion to pass predictable sentence.
Thus the 17,200 ticket-holders and Yorkshire officials were left bitterly disappointed, their frustration intensified by the fact that the 2009 and 2012 one-day internationals between England and the West Indies at Headingley were also abandoned without a ball bowled, not to mention the opening day of this summer’s New Zealand Test.
“I’m most disappointed for the supporters who bought their tickets many months ago to watch what was an eagerly awaited encounter between England and Australia,” said Mark Arthur, the Yorkshire chief executive.
“They are the people I feel really, really sorry for.
“Thankfully, they will get their money back.
“We will also prioritise those people who have missed out this year when we play India next year; India are the world champions, and arguably better one-day opponents than Australia, and those who have missed out this time will be given the first opportunity of booking for next year.”
Arthur confirmed Yorkshire will not lose out financially from yesterday’s washout, with the club insured under the England and Wales Cricket Board’s pluvius insurance.
However, the various independent catering outlets around the ground were affected by lost sales.
“It doesn’t affect Yorkshire County Cricket Club in any shape or form because we sold out the match and therefore we are completely insured and all the ticket purchasers get their money back,” said Arthur.
“The caterers will obviously take a hit on the food and the beverages they would have sold around the ground during the course of a normal one-day international, so you have to feel sorry for them.
“I just feel sorry for everyone both within Yorkshire cricket and also our partners with whom we work on a regular basis.
“A lot of hard work goes into planning a Test match or a one-day international and it’s very disappointing for all concerned.”
Ticket-holders for yesterday’s game have two options: they can claim a full refund or exchange their tickets for next year’s Headingley one-day international between England and India on September 5.
For those who exchange tickets, Yorkshire will try to allocate them the same seats or the closest seats available.
Having arrived at Yorkshire determined to keep Headingley at the forefront of international competition, Arthur could only bemoan a missed opportunity to showcase the stadium to the watching world.
That will have to wait until next June, when Yorkshire stage an appetising Test match between England and Sri Lanka, followed by the late-summer India ODI.
“It’s a shame because quite a lot of people said to me before this Australia match that they had never seen Headingley looking better,” said Arthur.
“The pitch, the outfield, the ground – it looked pristine.
“It’s a great disappointment that we weren’t able to showcase that to the world on this occasion, but we have to draw a line under this and we are already looking forward to next year.
“We’ve got two mouth-watering games to look forward to and we’ve already started to turn our attention to those.”
As the NatWest series moves to Manchester, where the second of the five-match series is due to take place tomorrow, Arthur hopes Yorkshire have finally exhausted their ill-luck with the weather.
A hat-trick of washouts in five years would suggest the sun does not always shine on the righteous, and he is keeping his fingers crossed that the wheel of fortune turns.
“Let’s hope over a 10-year period it evens itself out,” he said. “But we can’t worry about the weather.
“It’s one of the issues that is faced year-in, year-out by anybody staging international cricket, regardless of where they are in the country.
“I’m sure that our fortunes will change.”
The washout delayed Ravi Bopara’s plan to keep “annoying” England’s selectors ahead of this winter’s Ashes.
Bopara has four more matches in the NatWest Series against Australia to press his claims for inclusion in a Test squad likely to be announced later this month just before the final round of LV= County Championship.
The 28-year-old played the last of his 13 Tests more than 13 months ago but is once again a limited-overs regular for England.
Bopara said: “I know I’ve got to get runs – it’s a simple formula.
“If you keep putting results on the board, knocking at that door, eventually someone’s going to open it.”
His next opportunity ought to come against Australia at Old Trafford on Sunday.
“My plan is to be annoying, just tick along at that door and hope one day someone comes along and opens it - and I get my chance.”