England vs. Pakistan, 2nd Test, Day 2 – Farcical

I don’t know what it is about our game, you know the one we truly love and cherish, that it keeps wanting to shoot itself in the dick time after time. Today was an absolute farce, no doubt about it, and with the world watching after an enforced lay off from the sport, Test Cricket once again administered self-inflicted wounds to itself. Was the light great? Probably not. Was it dangerous? Certainly not; yet the umpires took it upon themselves to take the players off the field at every possible opportunity. It really does make you despair at times that a sport that is fighting for it’s very survival, can openly make such a pig’s ear of everything that you wonder whether it is actually trying to make itself extinct.

An interesting question has to be asked as to whether the umpires would have made the same decision if there were 15,000 paying punters in the ground? Possibly, possibly not, but even so there are many more of us that pay extortionate Sky subscriptions so that we can watch the game we love. Fans as ever always seem to be an inconvenience to cricket unless we’re paying £90 a ticket or buying overpriced food and merchandise and even then the ‘hoi polloi’ are there to be merely tolerated at best.

Also the question of growing the game amongst our youth has to be asked. If I asked my 10 year old nephew to sit through today, I doubt he wouldn’t have held it against me for the rest of my life. How do you explain to someone that is new to the sport that they can’t play because it’s a little gloomy even though there are powerful floodlights in the ground? How can you explain that the light was fine for 9 balls after an early tea but then a bit too dark to play even when Rizwan was hitting a quick bowler over his head for 4? You just wouldn’t get that in any other game on the planet. No wonder football is our national sport.

I could go on all day about this, but for me, this video from George Dobell, ironically at Old Trafford sums it up perfectly:

As for the play that we actually did have, well let’s be kind and say it was hardly a thrill a minute stuff. The beauty about Test Cricket is that it can ebb and flow dramatically from one session to another. You can get a dull session and then suddenly the game explodes; unfortunately this was just a turgid day of cricket. It does amuse me that in other sports like football a 0-0 bore draw would be described as boring yet try and mention the “B” word with regards to Test Cricket and you are suddenly being called heretic. Test Cricket can be wonderful, but at times it can also be dreadfully dull, unfortunately what we got today was a lot of the latter.

England bowled well at times but looked pretty innocuous for most of the day, in fact it was a rare terrific ball that finally got rid of the set Babar Azam. Jimmy got Shah driving and nicking to slip on a pitch where the drive needs to be put away and then we got the classic Pakistani brain fade run out as Shaheen embraced a bit of yes, no, yes, no, oh crap after being dismissed by a direct hit from Sibley. It would be fair to say that the wheels came off for England after that, who time and time again tried to bowl the magic ball and time and time again failed to pull it off. I don’t what it is about the English mindset that when they have a team 8 or 9 down that they forget to bowl decent deliveries to the set batsman in the hope they can dismiss the tailender at the other end. It rarely ends well and today was no different, even if Broad did manage to dismiss Abbas in the 9 balls after tea by actually bowling at the stumps. This is not designed to in any way denigrate the innings that Rizwan played, who looked to have a very solid defence and cleverly picked the balls to go after when batting with the tail, but it was pretty clueless by England. Unfortunately not for the first time.

The result of which is that Pakistan are very much in the game on a tricky pitch with tricky overhead conditions. That is of course dependent of whether the umpires fancy a round of golf tomorrow or just being pampered by the Aegeas Hilton room service, I mean who cares if we get a game on or not??

Test Cricket can be wonderful at times and deeply frustrating at other times, sadly today will not be remembered for the cricketing action on the pitch; instead it will act as a stark reminder that it’s refusal to change is likely to put it’s very existence into question.

Thoughts and comments very much welcome.

 

 

27 thoughts on “England vs. Pakistan, 2nd Test, Day 2 – Farcical

  1. dannycricket Aug 14, 2020 / 7:10 pm

    Given it’s taken 2 days to manage 86 overs, and the forecast for the next three days isn’t great either, I think it might be time to write this game off and mentally move on to the final Test. Watching this game crawl towards an inevitable draw helps no one.

    And yes, I am trying to get out of doing Sunday’s post.

    Like

    • Sean Aug 14, 2020 / 7:13 pm

      No such luck I’m afraid. Genuine questions around why they can’t start these games at 10am if light is always going to be a factor.

      Like

      • dannycricket Aug 14, 2020 / 7:16 pm

        Or just play every Test at Old Trafford. All three games there managed a result.

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        • Sean Aug 14, 2020 / 7:21 pm

          You’ve been listening to Mike Birty too much…

          Like

          • dannycricket Aug 14, 2020 / 7:34 pm

            Well there are two key points for why they should host every Test:

            1) It’s in the North.

            2) It’s not in Yorkshire.

            Like

          • Sean Aug 14, 2020 / 7:39 pm

            Haha. 6 London Tests is always the correct answer.

            Like

  2. Marek Aug 14, 2020 / 8:04 pm

    Wasn’t watching, but…86 overs and struggling to get the opposition tail out, but still not a single over of spin even though you have a specialist spinner, looks either like rather unimaginative captaincy or that they’ve got the wrong spinner! Or was there something more?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean Aug 14, 2020 / 8:06 pm

      Nope that’s pretty much right. Though the overhead conditions did massively favour the quicks.

      Like

    • dannycricket Aug 14, 2020 / 8:08 pm

      Just so many breaks for rain and ‘bad light’ meant that they never had to rest their pace bowlers, and the ball kept swinging throughout.

      Besides, they need to take wickets and Jos “Iron Hands” Buttler keeping wicket makes it less likely to happen with a spinner.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark Aug 14, 2020 / 9:22 pm

    It used to be that the law said players should go off for bad light “if there was a danger to the batsman. “

    Sometime about a few decades ago it seems to have got redwritten as “if there was a danger to the batsman getting out.”

    I joke of course. But umpires do seem to have rediffined it on those grounds. If you think this test match is not in a good position for a result just imagine if it was only a four day test?

    Four day tests in England when often the full 90 overs won’t get bowled sounds like utter idiocy to me.

    Like

    • Sean Aug 14, 2020 / 10:14 pm

      Four day Tests are a complete lunacy. There is nothing that can persuade me otherwise.

      I get the whole light thing if it’s dangerous, though many a club player has played through awful light. If it’s not dangerous then don’t take them off. Simple.

      Like

    • Marek Aug 14, 2020 / 10:32 pm

      …and if it is dangerous then turn the fucking floodlights on–and/or bowl your spinners!

      Like

      • Sean Aug 14, 2020 / 10:34 pm

        EXACTLY THIS…

        Like

      • Mark Aug 14, 2020 / 10:48 pm

        To be honest it would have to be almost literally dark before it would be dangerous to face spinners. If you can see the ball in the hands of a spin bowler from 22 yards away it’s just not physically dangerous.

        Liked by 1 person

        • dannycricket Aug 15, 2020 / 6:38 am

          At some point it becomes dangerous for the fielders too. After all, if a batsman hits the ball up in the air (seeing the ball ok against the white sightscreen) only for the ball to miss the fielder’s hands and hit their unprotected head because they lost it against the dark sky, it’s still an issue.

          Of course there are things which would alleviate this, such as a pink ball which the floodlights can pick up on. The downside of that is that the pink Dukes ball apparently swings a lot, but that’s an issue of ‘fairness’ as opposed to safety. Especially this summer, with the extraordinary lengths both teams have gone to in order to even begin playing, surely that’s a better outcome than ‘clouds stopped play’ taking out half of the available overs?

          Like

          • Mark Aug 15, 2020 / 10:59 am

            The point about fielders safety is a perfectly good one, but the regulations never mention them. It’s always framed around the safety of the batsman.

            If spinners are bowling it really is not that dangerous to the batsman. Unless it is very dark. Which is unlikely at 6-7pm during an English summers evening however cloudy. In the 1970s in the early ODI matches before there were floodlights and white balls they were sometimes playing at 8pm to 9pm.

            It’s much more a problem in other parts of the world where the sun goes down very early and quickly, and it gets very dark in a short time. I think it’s a problem of the ICC imposing a one size fit all bad light rule on very different local situations.

            The bigger problem is professional cricket players and administrators seem to be more than happy either going off the field or nothing happening for long periods. The fan is not a consideration.

            Like

          • thelegglance Aug 15, 2020 / 10:59 am

            Umpire safety is also a consideration by the way.

            Like

          • Benny Aug 15, 2020 / 11:34 pm

            Can anyone remember a fielder ever being hurt because the light was bad.

            Like

          • thelegglance Aug 15, 2020 / 11:39 pm

            Nope. You may talk about health and safety gone mad here but…

            Like

          • Marek Aug 16, 2020 / 10:12 am

            It makes sense not to forget about umpire and fielder safety–after all a club umpire was killed a few years ago and a former test cricketer died after being hit in the field–but I would have thought that heavier bats and changes in batting technique and tactics are a much bigger risk here than bad light.

            Like

    • thelegglance Aug 15, 2020 / 12:09 am

      The problem is that the playing regulations offer a cop out. We all know that in the modern world of potential litigation safety is the priority – and God knows in cricket in the last few years we’ve had cause to be aware of that.

      The problem is that the regulations don’t focus on that, they talk about play stopping if dangerous “or unreasonable”. That gives so much leeway. I don’t think it’s reasonable to bat on day one on a greentop, but c’est la vie. Dangerous should the one and only criterion.

      Like

  4. Rohan Aug 15, 2020 / 12:58 am

    Sean you are spot to on! As a 9 or 10 year old when I started watching test cricket on TV, I had no one to explain the rules to me and could not fathom bad light stops play, it seemed ridiculous to me. I would actually add to that the inordinate amount of time it sometimes takes to return to the field after a light shower stopped play.

    You are completely right, play should start at 10am and, I think, continue till 8pm at least, we very often have wonderful early morning and late evenings in U.K. summers.

    On England bowling to the tail…..I have heard this from Michael Holding on commentary, at every test this summer, in relation to it ‘they miss I hit’ it’s that simple…..

    Like

    • Mark Aug 15, 2020 / 11:21 am

      I agree about all the times they were going off when it seemed ridiculous.

      I remember when they were completely inflexible about breaks. So a typical 11am start time it might be raining, so no play. This would last until about 11.45 and the ground staff would then come out and get things ready for a 12.30 start. Out they would come for half an hour before they went back in again for lunch at 1pm with bright blue sky. LOL

      Like

  5. Metatone Aug 15, 2020 / 7:15 am

    I don’t mind the use of light meters, because an objective standard is good, even if it confuses TV viewers. However, I think there needs to be a lot more thought about that first time they go off, since it sets the standard for the whole match. First, umpires need to really not rush off the first time or it can destroy a whole Test. Second, if you can use technology for LBW it’s time to ask again if we could have a technological determination of light levels.

    The argument against putting a light meter reading in the laws was usually that the colour of the light makes a difference to ball visibility, so you needed to use common sense, not just a light level meter. But there are much more sophisticated measuring setups now and if you can afford ball-tracking I don’t see they can’t afford some light measuring kit.

    Like

    • Marek Aug 15, 2020 / 10:32 am

      The problem to me is that they’ve become obsessed with this objectivity, and also that they’ve–as usual–forgotten about the paying viewers/spectators.

      If I remember correctly, even when light meters were first introduced, they were used in a very different way. There wasn’t the obsession with the conditions being the same for every innings–which is a completely stupid yardstick anyway: I mean, if the side batting first bats on a greentop under heavy cloud cover and gets bowled out for 45 just as the sun emerges, they don’t wait two weeks for the second innings just to have another seaming greentop so that both sides are batting in the same conditions!

      The main practical effect of this was that the result of a dodgy light reading was that the umpires offered the light to the batsman rather than take them off automatically–and they could do what they wanted. One of the ridiculous things about yesterday’s play was that the senior batsman was quite happy to continue batting. There was an intermediate measure of telling the fielding captain that if he didn’t bowl his spinners, then the light would be offered to the batsmen.

      But the only reasons I can see for going off when the batsmen want to keep batting is if it’s so dangerous that the umpires think the batsmen are being negligent (in the legal sense) about their safety, or if it’s dangerous or manifestly unfair to the fielders. The only example of the latter that comes to my mind is Karachi 2000–where, as the umpire pointed out, the unfair situation was as a result of the fielding captain’s unfair tactics in the first place.

      Like

  6. dArthez Aug 15, 2020 / 5:31 pm

    If only the batsmen had come out for 1 ball, then the media could be singing the praises for Rizwan batting on 4 days (and maybe even all 5). Alas, it was not to be.

    But at this point, due to the insane number of overs lost, the moment play can actually start, Pakistan should declare and see if they can skittle England out, just to keep the Test alive.

    Like

  7. Benny Aug 15, 2020 / 11:42 pm

    I have to say I think light meters are unnecessary. Technology is great when it makes life better or easier. Light meters don’t tell umpires if conditions are unplayable. They let umpires decide and record the light level at that time. I struggle to call it technology. It’s more like an alarm clock

    Like

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