Pink balls and early starts for Tests

ECB weighs up rad­i­cal moves to solve prob­lem of bad light Broad­cast­ers fu­ri­ous over lack of ac­tion in se­cond Test

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Nick Hoult at the Ageas Bowl

Pink balls and ear­lier start times are be­ing con­sid­ered as ways to solve prob­lems caused by bad light, af­ter far­ci­cal de­lays ru­ined the se­cond

Test in Southamp­ton. As The Tele­graph re­vealed on­line yes­ter­day, the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil is to dis­cuss its play­ing reg­u­la­tions con­cern­ing bad light fol­low­ing a back­lash from an­gry broad­cast­ers.

The ICC last dis­cussed the is­sue seven years ago when mem­ber boards re­jected pro­pos­als to play on un­der flood­lights in fad­ing light. But it is un­der­stood the gov­ern­ing body is will­ing to take an­other look at the is­sue at its next cricket com­mit­tee meet­ing, chaired by for­mer In­dia bowler Anil Kum­ble.

No date is set for the meet­ing, giv­ing time for the au­thor­i­ties to look into work­able so­lu­tions for a prob­lem that is seen to be more spe­cific to Eng­land.

Joe Root, the Eng­land cap­tain, is open to ear­lier start times and he also sug­gested us­ing a ball of a lighter red colour. “Maybe there has to be a min­i­mum stan­dard of flood­lights and play on through­out with a slightly red­der ball, a lighter red ball, rather than a dark Dukes ball. But un­til those things change from the ICC, the um­pires have got to fol­low the rules in front of them. As play­ers, we just have to do what we are told and I think both teams did that to the best of their abil­ity,” Root said.

The Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board is un­der­stood to be open to the idea of us­ing pink balls and bring­ing for­ward the start to make up for lost time, which could hap­pen as soon as the next Test, which starts on Fri­day. At the mo­ment, start times are fixed at 11am and play lost added to the end of sub­se­quent days. Else­where around the world, matches nor­mally start 30 min­utes ear­lier when play on a pre­vi­ous day has been cut short by the weather.

The ECB is re­luc­tant to go down that road be­cause it would po­ten­tially mess with the plans of sup­port­ers who may have booked train tick­ets with a view to ar­riv­ing for

an 11am start, but with these games played be­hind closed doors that is not a prob­lem. With broad­cast­ers and teams stay­ing at the on-site ho­tels in Southamp­ton and Manch­ester, it fur­ther re­duces lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues of start­ing ear­lier.

One so­lu­tion is to use the pink ball or bat on in fad­ing light. Both ideas were re­jected by mem­bers. Since then con­fi­dence has grown in the qual­ity of the pink ball, with play­ers us­ing it in Test matches in Aus­tralia and Eng­land.

Us­ing a pink ball is an ICC de­ci­sion, and that will take months to rat­ify. It would have to go through var­i­ous ICC com­mit­tees. It is un­der­stood broad­cast­ers in this coun­try and Aus­tralia, where the ECB have sold over­seas rights, were fu­ri­ous at the lack of ac­tion.

They ac­cepted light was too dan­ger­ous for play, but there was dis­ap­point­ment at the de­ci­sion to aban­don play on Sun­day in bright evening sun­shine. The ECB has spent mil­lions to pro­vide biose­cure venues and there was sur­prise there was not more com­mit­ment to

play the game from the of­fi­cials. On the fourth day, play was aban­doned around 4pm, but the ECB be­lieves it could have restarted at 6pm, giv­ing broad­cast­ers some live cricket.

Broad­cast­ers are un­der­stood to have been dis­ap­pointed the ICC did not al­low match ref­eree Chris Broad to com­ment, be­liev­ing it in­creased the con­fu­sion over the ap­pli­ca­tion of the reg­u­la­tions.

The ICC in­sists it is pro­to­col for the match ref­eree not to com­ment dur­ing matches apart from in of­fi­cial state­ments. His re­port will take into ac­count whether or not enough ac­tion was taken to max­imise play. The use of the pink ball could pro­vide an an­swer in the fu­ture if poor light is fore­cast for sev­eral days. Seven years ago the play­ers told the ICC it was eas­ier to pick out the pink ball in fad­ing light than the red one, due to bet­ter con­trast un­der the flood­lights.

The is­sue is when to use the ball. Would chang­ing from a red to pink ball half­way through a match rad­i­cally al­ter the game? Per­haps it could be used from the be­gin­ning of a match when a fore­cast sug­gests bad light will be an is­sue over the course of five days. Nat­u­ral light of­fers about 30,000 lux. Flood­lights add an­other 2,000 to 3,000, so once the nat­u­ral light goes the ar­ti­fi­cial il­lu­mi­na­tion only pro­vides a small amount of change, which is why play­ing on in bad light was re­jected by boards in 2013.

The pres­sure for change will be ap­plied by broad­cast­ers. Their deals are with in­di­vid­ual boards. The ICC is made up of its mem­ber coun­tries. If those mem­bers are pres­surised by their broad­cast part­ners to ad­dress the bad light sit­u­a­tion, then the ICC will act.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.