IT had to happen that the weather would finally play more than a fleeting part in this summer of cricket.
Yes, England escaped on a couple of occasions during the Ashes Test series, and were thankful to do so, but no-one wants this series of five one-day matches to be truncated.
There is too much at stake for both sets of players and their respective managements.
The one-dayers have been billed as a battle of the reserves as so many big-name players from the Ashes teams are absent but they should really be called Opportunity Knocks.
It is in series such as this that new names can announce themselves. The stars of the next few months or years have a chance to grab the attention and herald a bright future for their country.
A day watching the rain come down at Headingley on Friday suited no-one so the hope must be that Manchester today and the rest of the match venues are bathed in sunshine.
So who are the likely runners and riders, who can rise to prominence?
Michael Carberry has been revitalised since his sole Test match against Bangladesh and a dreadful lung complaint which threatened to destroy his career. He has been in quite brilliant form in one-day cricket for Hampshire all summer and, if he delivers a couple of similar innings, will be considered a viable long-term ODI opening partner for Kevin Pietersen. He has the shots and, at 32 years old, is mature in mind yet supremely fit and a whippet in the field.
His age, though, means England need him to perform immediately as he’s not one for the future.
In contrast 19-year-old bowler Jamie Overton has only played 13 List A matches for Somerset and 15 first-class matches. He is what the Australians call a bolter. A surprise pick, the England management will be watching him for potential, not just in terms of aptitude but attitude as well. He is well regarded in the west country and worth a look as he is tall, strong and, according to some who have faced him, deceptively pacy.
Overton is where Ben Stokes was two years ago – the new kid on the block with lashings of potential.
Stokes made his debut in 2011 but, since then, has endured a blip, albeit one that was mostly self-inflicted. He was sent home early from the England Lions tour of Australia last winter for persistent breaches of discipline. His reintegration now is a chance for both he and the powers that be to see if the brain has been engaged, as well as a stark reminder to the likes of Overton of what behaviour is unacceptable.
At 29, Boyd Rankin is a relative veteran, having played more than 50 international matches – mostly for Ireland. He has been picked because he is 6ft 7 inches tall, was in the Ireland side that beat England at the 2011 world cup and plays for Warwickshire, so coach Ashley Giles has seen a lot of him.
This is the problem when so many players are rested. With no James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan nor even back-ups such as Chris Tremlett, it starts to become a bit of a mission to fill a squad.
Australia are not quite so experimental but there are a few players still in the process of confirming themselves in the international side. Aaron Finch only came to prominence during last year’s Big Bash, during which he smashed Shane Warne all over Melbourne. Others suffered as well but it was his innings against Warne that demonstrated his power, clean striking and utter refusal to be daunted.
Shaun Marsh is back again as the selectors refuse to just pick him or discard him. Adam Voges is present to offer his usual brand of intelligent middle order manoeuvring and former Saltire George Bailey is desperate to contribute more so he can become a fixture in the side.
With Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and Phil Hughes also in the squad, the chances are one will miss out. Glenn Maxwell will continue his development as powerful hitter and useful off-spinner, while some younger thrusters such as Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Josh Hazelwood and the intriguing Fawad Ahmed will get a chance to impress. Australia have been in transition for some time so this is a continuation of the process. England have deliberately chosen to force the issue. It all makes for a more interesting series than one dubbed “the reserves”.