England were deprived last night of the opportunity to become the world's top ranked one-day side, when their match against Australia in Birmingham was called off because of rain. Although they are 2-0 ahead in the series they had to win all five scheduled matches if they were to head the International Cricket Council ratings for the first time.
The cancellation is a disaster for Warwickshire, whose finances had already been severely affected by the rain which so badly disrupted the third Test match against West Indies. The county desperately need to generate income in order to finish paying for the £32m new stand which has transformed the ground.
With no Test at Edgbaston next year, it is imperative that the 2013 one-day Champions Trophy, the final of which will be held at the ground, is an overwhelming success. That is likely to happen only if England reach the latter stages.
Every possible effort was made to get yesterday's match started. Despite the pessimistic forecast the ground was two-thirds full and inspections were scheduled for each hour from 2pm. Each time the umpires made their way out it rained again and at 6.20pm it was time to give up the ghost.
It is the second time this season that an ODI has been abandoned without a ball bowled. The third match against West Indies at Headingley, home of Yorkshire, another cash-strapped county, was also called off. The fourth match against Australia is scheduled for Chester-le-Street on Saturday – the forecast is, guardedly, promising that it will go ahead.
Although the teams for the match were not officially named it seemed likely that the fast bowler Chris Woakes would have played. With Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott also in the side it would have been the first time since 1974 that three Warwickshire players had appeared in the same England XI.