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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Sunday September 08 2013

Regulars here know that I am an admirer of Britain’s short term weather forecasts.  Britain’s Meteorological Office also has a disgustingly politicised long term weather forecasting department, whose prophecies I despise.  But the short term forecasts are the real deal, based on real knowledge.  Pretty much always, these short term forecasts are correct.

Me being a libertarian, I regret that the Met Office is funded out of taxation rather than with voluntary payments from customers.  That it is now corrupted by the addition of that long term forecasting bit is a typical consequence of such compulsory funding, because compulsory funding has an inbuilt tendency to be grabbed hold of by people with dodgy agendas that wouldn’t pay for themselves by voluntary methods.  It is upon the prestige generated by the short term weather forecasts that the politicised long term forecasts sail forth and do all their damage.

None of which alters the fact that the Met Office’s short term forecasts are, as of now, very good, and a big part of the way I now live.

But as a fan of cricket, as well as of short term weather forecasts, I can’t help noticing that cricket people don’t admire short term weather forecasts nearly as much as I do.  I think this is because the only time when weather forecasts loom large for cricket players and cricket watchers is on rainy days, and most rainy days in England are not days of solid rain, but days with rain sometimes but not at other times, and in some places but not in other nearby places.  Now that the top cricket grounds in England mostly have clever drainage systems, cricket can be played at them pretty much whenever it is not actually raining.  But, when exactly will that be?  “Sunny intervals, scattered showers.” That’s a typical weather forecast in these islands.  But for how long, exactly, and where, exactly, will the sunny intervals be radiating their sunshine and the scattered showers be scattering their showers?

In England, the weather on a rainy day can be very local.  I live a walk away from the Oval cricket ground, which is on the other side of the Thames from me.  I have known many a nice day for me when the cricket was washed completely out at the Oval, and other days when they played, but would not have played at all had the weather been as I got it.

A day can be generally rainy, but whether any of the rain will fall, and for how long, on the particular cricket ground that the cricket world happens to be obsessing about that day is in the lap of the weather gods, and beyond the powers of the Met Office to be exact about. 

So, cricket people tend not to admire weather forecasts, or to set much store by them.

The ODI on Thursday in Leeds was a total washout.  I pretty much knew that it would be, because they were forecasting solid rain, which is actually quite rare in England.  But even then, a little local break in the clouds might have meant a shortened game.  They just had to wait and see, although by about lunchtime the game was up.  That was a day when their deep distrust of forecasts got their hopes up needlessly.  The spectators, I believe, stayed away in their thousands.

Today there is the second ODI between England and Australia in Manchester.  Here is the BBC version of the weather forecast for that right now:

A chilly but bright start to the day in many areas, but with showers affecting some western areas. Showers becoming more widespread during the morning with some of these heavy. A cool day with generally light winds.

That tells me, and has actually been telling me for several days, that today in Manchester would probably not be that good day for one of my photo-wanders.  I typically just want to know what kind of day it’s going to be, and that tells me.  If I did venture out, I’d take a brolly and a good book, make an early start, and stay close to transport so I could get home quick if it later turned really bad.  But the cricketers can’t tell from that whether they’ll get a game or not, because everything depends on exactly where the rain lands, and in what exact amounts.  That forecast could mean anything from an almost total wash-out to a great day of cricket.  I will be tuning in to see, but I don’t know what kind of game it will be, and neither does anyone else.