Experts are warning to expect more than the usual afternoon thunderstorm in Brisbane as rare weather patterns threaten to spoil the Ashes build-up for both Australia and England and the first Test itself.
Play was abandoned without a ball bowled on day two of the England vs England Lions three-day game at Peter Burge Oval in the coastal suburb of Wellington Point on Wednesday.
Only 29 overs were possible on Tuesday, with openers Rory Burns (39 not out) and Haseeb Hameed (53 not out) untroubled in taking England to 0 for 98. About 90mm of rain fell between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning and there is an expectation of more to come that could see day three washed out as well.
England only have one more tour match scheduled before the December 8 Ashes opener at the Gabba, with star allrounder Ben Stokes desperate for time in the middle after nearly five months out of the game to prioritise his mental health.
Australia’s Test hopesfuls are set to battle for the final spots in the Test XI at Peter Burge Oval in a three-day intra-squad match from Wednesday next week.
Ominously, Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) meteorologist Helen Reid said “very wet thunderstorms” were forecast until at least Sunday, while the La Nina weather pattern will ensure a more humid environment brings “more rain days and higher amounts of rain”.
“You can’t set your clock to the 3pm Brisbane thunderstorm anymore; they’re coming morning, day and night,” Ms Reid told AAP in a nod to the fierce but brief afternoon storms that have often impacted Gabba Tests. “It’s already soggy and it’ll stay soggy for the next couple of days. This amount of rain is uncommon and that’s why we’ve noticed this La Nina business.”
The prospect of no play in Australia’s intra-squad game doesn’t help wicketkeeper Tim Paine’s cause as he attempts to prove his fitness and hold his place, despite the recent text message scandal that resulted in him stepping down as captain.
It would also deny selectors one last chance to observe batsmen Usman Khawaja and Travis Head, who are vying to occupy the No.5 spot. The Test itself could also be plagued by uncharacteristically persistent rain but Australia opener Marcus Harris is seeing the lighter side.
“I saw somewhere that someone said Jimmy Anderson brought the rain with him. He’s definitely done that,” he said. “[But] This time last year, with the way COVID was, I’d only played a couple of Shield games then I was in the Test squad.
“It’s been tough for us guys from Victoria and NSW to get the amount of cricket in, but having played a full winter of county cricket, a few Shield games – I’ve definitely played plenty of cricket so I’ll be ready to go .”
England England vs Eng LionsThe Ashes