A La Niña event made its presence felt early on, as England’s three-day tour match in Brisbane was heavily affected by rain. There was up to 121mm of rain in Brisbane on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the game abandoned on day 2 and no further play on day 3.
England sat on 0/98, with Rory Burns (39 runs) and Haseeb Hameed (53) not out after only 29 overs were beaten for the match.
The internal warm-up match between England and England Lions was the first of two warm-up matches for the tournament team. They have another four-day intra-squad match scheduled to begin on Tuesday, November 30th.
The Australian team is also preparing for a three-day intra-squad match between Australia (“the probable”) and Australia A (“the possible”). The match is set to begin on Wednesday, December 1, in Brisbane.
La Niña, however, is running a sad weather forecast for southeast Queensland over the next week. Some players from both camps may be deprived of a proper hit-out prior to the first test.
Showers are expected again early next week, with early forecasts suggesting that there may be between 10-20 mm of rain this coming Monday and Tuesday in Brisbane.
Australia’s squad preparations
Australia’s emergence of an intra-squad match in Southampton ahead of the 2019 Ashes was a critical part of the team’s selection process and their subsequent success in the series. The last player XI for the first test is expected to be completed after the internal hit-out.
Many Australian players will bet on the last warm-up game to impress the spectators and get choices for vacancies in the side. This perhaps includes most notably Travis Head and Usman Khawaja, who are both vying for a place in the middle row as No. 5.
Former Australian captain Tim Paine announced on Friday that he will take leave from all forms of cricket in the “foreseeable future”. His withdrawal has left the wicket holding space wide open.
It would also give Jhye Richardson an opportunity to push his case to the first test. His spectacular form at Sheffield Shield this season has yielded 23 wickets, including a unique 8-wicket halling against Queensland at Gabba.
The rain has so far dampened preparations for the Ashes players, who are currently stationed in southeast Queensland. Senior Meteorologist (at the Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland) Laura Boekel said this in a statement Thursday:
“widespread rain and heavy thunderstorms (will occur) across Queensland today, with further rain on the way next week.”
A La Niña event ensures that the trend continues into the season.
What is La Niña?
La Niña is a complex weather pattern associated with tropical humidity and above-average rainfall for the eastern half of Australia. It pushes warmer waters towards the western part of the Pacific Ocean, leading to more evaporation and therefore increased rainfall.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) officially stated that a La Niña event was present in the Pacific last Tuesday.
The BOM stated that “the La Niña event will last until the summer of the late southern hemisphere or the early fall of 2022”, in a climate driver update statement last Tuesday.
It would apparently cover the entire Ashes series, which is scheduled to be played between December 8, 2021 and January 18, 2022. But it is obviously too early to predict scenarios with leaches and draws.
Beyond the beginning of December, all that is clear is that La Niña will result in an increased probability of precipitation above the average in eastern Australia. Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart are particularly susceptible to rain.
Sydney Cricket Ground already has an ominous record of rain-interrupted test matches – it is the most rain-affected venue in the country. La Niña may not be useful for that reputation either.
Since test matches began in Australia in 1877, Sydney has had 24 days of play washed out without a ball. This is followed by Brisbane (8), Melbourne (6), Adelaide (2), Hobart (2) and Perth (0).
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Both the La Niña threat and historical trends suggest that there should again be little or no threat, at least in Adelaide and Perth (if the fifth test takes place in WA).
Edited by Shourjo Chatterjee