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

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Second Test - Michael Vaughan

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

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