Heavy rain had been falling in Warsaw for most of the day and massive pools of water had appeared on the pitch long before the game was due to start.
Italy referee Gianluca Rocci inspected the National Stadium pitch at 9pm, by which time it already seemed the cause was hopeless.
However, it was decided to wait another 45 minutes before making a final decision.
In the end though, with rain continuing to fall, there was no chance of the game being played properly, with coach Roy Hodgson expressing some doubt over its fitness for the game to be played as planned on Wednesday.
"I'm rather hoping there'll get it (the roof) closed now as quickly as possible and start to do some work on the pitch because at moment the pitch is in very poor condition. Water is lying on the surface.
"It's going to need a lot of attention if it's going to be playable tomorrow afternoon."
The England boss said he was happy with the rescheduled time.
"I think it was the only decision that could be made," he said. "There're no other possibilities. You can't find dates at international level. The dates that are available are all taken up so you can't just suddenly decide we'll play it another time.
"What you have to do is to try to organise to get the game played as quickly as possible. We'll have to go back to the hotel. We're disappointed.
"We prepared well for this start tonight as no doubt the Poles have too, but now we've got to do it all over again and hopefully we'll be as prepared tomorrow as we were tonight."
It was the first time an England match had been called off due to the weather since 1979 and calls into question the decision of the Polish FA not to close the stadium roof.
The decision was greeted with derision by a packed stadium.
However, it seemed obvious from the initial inspection, as the ball repeatedly came to a standstill in massive puddles, there was no way the match could go ahead.
Although the goalkeepers had begun their warm-up, neither team attempted it.
And they did not try later on either.
In fact, the only sign of life was a pitch invasion by two fans, who skidded across the penalty areas, pursued by security staff, whose comical splashing through the sodden pitch made it obvious what was to happen.
It is believed the England players had changed out of their kit and were ready for departure when the final decision was made.