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  • England v Australia, NatWest Series, Edgbaston

England lose chance of No. 1 ranking

George Dobell at Edgbaston
July 4, 2012
England v Australia - Match Abandoned
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The groundstaff were given another hard day's work © Getty Images
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England were thwarted in their aim to become the No. 1 side in all forms of the game as rain forced the third ODI at Edgbaston to be abandoned without a ball being bowled.

England, who had won the first two games in the series, needed to win the series 5-0 to become the No. 1 ranked ODI side. They are already the top ranked side in Test and T20 cricket. Australia, the current No. 1 ranked ODI side, were also disappointed as the washout means they can, at best, only draw this series.

While gaps between the showers flirted with a large crowd and ensured an exhausting day for the ground staff, the rain never stayed away long enough to allow the outfield and bowlers' run-ups to dry sufficiently from the torrential rain that has fallen across Birmingham in recent weeks. More than 11mm of rain fell on the ground in the 24 hours preceding the scheduled start of the game. Play was finally abandoned just after 6pm, four hours after the scheduled start time. Spectators will receive a full refund, minus a small administration fee.

There was some good news for England. James Anderson, who missed the second match with a thigh strain, was able to bowl in between the showers and would have been fit for this game. With Jade Dernbach out of the series with a side strain, England will announce whether either or both Stuart Meaker (who was added to the squad for the second ODI, but was unavailable for the third because he was attending Tom Maynard's funeral) and Chris Woakes (who was added to the squad for this match) will be in the squad for the fourth ODI, to be played on Saturday at Chester-le-Street. Unfortunately the weather forecast for that game is not at all promising. The final game in the series is to be played on July 10 at Old Trafford, which is hardly in a city famed for its arid conditions.

The washout sustains a grim run of fortune for Warwickshire and the long-suffering Birmingham public. The Test between England and West Indies was ruined by rain, as was a Friends Life t20 game between local rivals Warwickshire and Worcestershire when a full house crowd of 25,000 had been anticipated. Warwickshire had, at least, mitigated against the losses from this game and the FLt20 match by insuring not just ticket sales, but retail sales, too.

While a large crowd - the club had sold over 21,000 tickets - tolerated the delays with patience and good humour, news of the abandonment was met with jeers and boos. The sight of the Australia team slipping and sliding over the outfield as they attempted a training session following the abandonment would have underlined the impression, however, that conditions were simply unfit for cricket.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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