Big downpour threatens final

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The Independent Online

For a man with a serious prospect of watching 3.5m rand (£360,000) in ticket receipts and not much less in bar and food takings being washed away in torrents down the drain, Ziggy Wadvalla had a large amount of star-dust in his eyes yesterday.

For a man with a serious prospect of watching 3.5m rand (£360,000) in ticket receipts and not much less in bar and food takings being washed away in torrents down the drain, Ziggy Wadvalla had a large amount of star-dust in his eyes yesterday.

"No problem," said the general manager of the Wanderers Stadium as ponds gathered on his outfield. "When it stops we can clear those in half an hour with our super sapper and drainage system. A little bit of sunshine on the pitch and we'll start on time."

The final of the Standard Bank triangular tournament between England and South Africa is due to start at 2.30pm tomorrow and Wadvalla was courageously, perhaps foolhardily, upbeat not only about it starting on time but about the state of the pitch it would be played on. There would be bounce and pace, he promised.

The only problem with this scenario is that 24.8 centimetres of rain have fallen here in the last three days and it shows no signs of stopping. As at Centurion Park, a marquee has been erected over the pitch so gas blowers can dry the surface.

If it is as effective as it was there - the last game, between England and Zimbabwe, was called off - they might as well organise a wedding reception in it to try to recoup some losses.

England had an enforced day off yesterday. Outdoor practice was impossible, indoor nets all but meaningless. South Africa went to the city university sports hall for a net but did not dash there. There could be nothing like this to induce a bout of end-of-tour syndrome.

Wadvalla may know his ground but time is running out, water is not. Sunday is a reserve day but the match has to be completed on one day, not carried over from one to the next.

These unprecedented floods have killed dozens of people not far from here, made others homeless as their houses have been washed away. A cricket match pales into nothingness by comparison, but whatever happens now nobody should complain about Guyana, Melbourne or Manchester again.

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