Seeing the light

With the 3rd Test in an artificially induced coma pending terminal decline today, I had time to read this piece by Jarrod Kimber on the ESPN Cricinfo page. I assume Mr Kimber to be an Australian since he is very rude about their team and the way it’s run. This is interesting for those of us fortunate enough not be Australian, providing as it does an insight into the conditions under which their selectors labour. The Telegraph’s splutterings are as nothing compared to this.

As first the players then the umpires abandoned the field yesterday afternoon, Lord Gower switched seamlessly to studio mode, summoned his team of ex-England captains and, with a weary smile at the camera, pushed their buttons. Beefy needed no second invitation to expostulate boorishly about the umpires’ decision, thus demonstrating yet again his lack of familiarity with the laws of the game. Athers and Nasser are another kettle of fish: they use their brains for more just keeping their ears apart, they both speak English, and their informed thoughtfulness always makes them worth listening to. Law 3.5.3.b.  – they reminded us – requires of the umpires that they immediately suspend play if deteriorating light makes it “unreasonable or dangerous”. They’re allowed to use light meters as an aide, but basically the language of the law allows them some leeway for subjective judgement. We know too that they really do try to keep the game going as long as possible. Nasser suggested that the best approach in this particular case might have been for the umpires to say to Clarke, “Look, you’re well in and you’re seeing it like a football. And it’s not dangerous for the fielders. But if you declare, it will be too dangerous for new batsmen coming in to face the new ball.” Well said, Nass, I thought, and applauded his knowledgeable common sense.

Later, I came across an interview with Marais Erasmus in which he said that he and Tony Hill had been in touch throughout the over, with conditions worsening by the minute, until they found it hard picking up the ball from square leg, at which point they called everyone off. So there we have it: it was dangerous for the fielders and even Nasser got it wrong. The umpires though, as is so often the case, got it right.

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