When word filtered through that the fourth ODI at the SCG on Sunday had been abandoned, it was not only the crowd of 22,521 who were intent on expressing their annoyance at the outcome. Sri Lanka's captain, Mahela Jayawardene, could not hide his frustration at seeing the match fail to resume in circumstances that heavily favoured his side, having beaten far worse conditions against New Zealand in Pallekele only three months ago.
Jayawardene said his team would write formally to the International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee, Javagal Srinath, seeking an explanation for an inconsistency in rulings from one series to the next. Srinath had explained that play would not resume because he and the umpires Paul Reiffel and Marais Erasmus felt conditions were unfair, whereas in Sri Lanka the match referee, Andy Pycroft, had said play would only be stopped if deemed unsafe.
This robbed Sri Lanka of an ideal chance to finish the series off, having bowled superbly to restrict Australia to 222 for 9, and Jayawardene expressed surprise that a ground as rich in history and facilities as the SCG could not get the game re-started.
"We played New Zealand three months ago and the interpretation we got in that series was quite different to what we got today," Jayawardene said. "We played in Pallekele with a lot of rain and during the World Cup as well. I think we need to find a bit more consistency, so that's something we'll probably write and put across to them [the ICC] and see how we can go about it. At the SCG, I would assume that a ground of this magnitude you should be able to get a game in. Maybe they should do what we do back home and cover the entire ground.
"I think we can write to the match referee because the interpretation we got three months ago in the New Zealand series was something totally different. It was deemed that we'd only stop play if it was dangerous, not unfair, but today the interpretation was different. I accept that, it comes from the match referee and the umpires so I'm happy to take that on board, but it was two interpretations we got within a three-month period."
Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, had chosen to bat first upon winning the toss but Jayawardene, mindful of rain on the horizon and also the hosts' struggles against the swinging, seaming ball in the past two matches, had always set his mind on sending his opponents in.
"When we started today I was going to bowl," he said. "Purely because of the weather that was going to be around today, so we were going to bowl first thinking that if it comes to Duckworth-Lewis we would have a better idea of what we needed chasing, and our guys bowled brilliantly up front.
“With the rain coming in and the equation it would probably have been a much easier chase, but I guess we just need to put this behind us and look forward to the next game. We've played some really good cricket and it's just a little disappointment, but we can take a lot out of the last three games, how we've come back into the series and controlled things."
For his part, Clarke indicated his own surprise at the game not resuming, saying that he had seen matches played at the SCG where far more rain had drenched the ground. The curator, Tom Parker, had indicated that the delay was caused by light rain that sat on the surface rather than sinking in, while a lack of any breeze made evaporation more of a challenge.