Broadcasters have power to consign arcane rules to past
Threat of being hit in the pocket should encourage authorities to ensure play becomes the main priority
Cricket cannot afford to endure another week like this. This Test match must be the tipping point for the game to finally address some of its arcane regulations.
To have teams going off for bad light when the floodlights are on is a terrible look. For the day to be called off in broad daylight and sunshine because of a wet outfield on Sunday night looked as if nobody cared about getting the match played. It was a complete snub for the paying viewer at home and the broadcasters who pump so much money into cricket.
It is good that the International Cricket Council is to look at bad light regulations, and hopefully we will look back on this Test as the week when everything changed for the better.
But it is not just bad light. Why do we not cover the whole ground in England, like they do in Sri Lanka, when it rains? The bowlers’ run-ups are barely covered at the Ageas Bowl. They were sopping wet yesterday, which is a further obstacle to getting on the field. Why not cover the whole outfield?
If that means bringing in extra groundstaff, then do it. That is being sensible and streetwise, and hardly a great expense, given how much it has cost to provide biosecure bubbles.
It is about thinking cleverly and working out how we can maximise play from the weather for each match. We all know and accept you cannot play in rain. But we have had so many bad light stoppages this summer and I have been bemused that we have gone off when so much money and time has been put in to creating biosecure environments. The players have been locked away from families for weeks. So have the umpires.
The England and Wales Cricket Board has gone to great lengths to put in place strict biosecure protocols, yet on the field we are still deciding whether it is fit to play based on outdated regulations. There has been so much change in the way the games have been put on to be Covid-safe, but on the field it is the same as ever.
Realistically, money talks. I understand one or two broadcasters having a gripe at no cricket being played and starting to ask why are we paying for this and thinking of refunds. That is the trigger that will make things change.
Broadcasters hold the power. They pump millions into cricket. We all owe our living to the broadcasters. They pay for almost every aspect of cricket in this country. It is not just BBC and Sky. Fox Sports in Australia has paid a lot of money for rights to this series and is not happy to see players going off for a bit of dodgy light.
In times like this, when the global economy has been hit hugely, money is more important than ever. It is not just the game that has been hit, but broadcasters around the world have also been affected by drops in advertising. The next broadcast deals may not be the same as the ones in place now, so the game has to do everything it can to give broadcasters what they have paid for.
If they ask for refunds because of bad light rules then it will sharpen the minds of administrators. Change will happen very quickly.
I do not actually care about the solutions they come up with. The pink ball could work. I know it goes a bit soft and players worry about facing it under lights, but so what? It is up to the game to come up with solutions and work with ball manufacturers to make the pink ball more durable. I have also seen matches in Australia where the pink ball has done nothing. Yasir Shah scored a century against Australia last winter against the pink ball. Yes it does swing at times, but so does the red ball.
Players just have to adapt because there is too much at stake, especially in such an uncertain world, for the game to be ruined like it has been this week.
If they ask for refunds it will sharpen the minds and change will happen very quickly