17 May 2008

Lighten up Bucknor!

Yes, I know it's not Steve Bucknor's fault that there are some idiotic laws in place covering bad light, but it was hard not to hate him yesterday as he kept waving around his lightmeter. Let's remember it's meant to be about the safety of the players (allegedly) - when Vettori has just hit Anderson for 12 off an over I think we can "safely" say that he's feeling pretty safe! With all the advances in protective equipment I think it would be quite difficult to argue that they are ever unsafe - exactly the argument that Mark Davis made last year.

Up and down the country today club cricketers will be playing in far worse light than there was at Lords on Thursday and Friday, and that is far more risky. The bowling may be slower but equally that batsman's reactions are slower, and there is no first aid on hand in case of injury. If the cricketing authorities are really worried about player safety then they'd have to tackle play where emergency services aren't available first. But they aren't really worried about safety at all really are they? Is it too cynical to suggest that once they have got past their 25 over threshold for spectators not getting any money back, they are quite keen to go off? Both against West Indies last year and against New Zealand this year, bad light could be used as an excuse to ensure there is 5 days play and the money rolls in.

That sort of view will undoubtedly see the death of sell out crowds for Tests, with Twenty20 taking over, so something needs to be done. But having said that, I wonder if Twenty20 will actually become a saviour of Test matches if the authorities don't use common sense first (which evidence suggests they won't) - if grounds require floodlights for day/night matches then these can be used for Tests too. Of course, we'd probably be told that it was the wrong sort of light!

Fortunately, to save this post becoming rediculously long, Cricinfo have already written much of what I wanted to. You can read their thoughts here. I'm personally coming round to the view that there should be no bad light law at all - the only possible reason for coming off is if the spectators (who over the last 2 days paid far more than £1 an over) can't see the middle.

Ba humbug.


Peter Lamb said...

The sooner the cricket authorities realise that they're in the entertainment business the better; they might then adopt that business's maxim: "the show must go on".
At present once the 25-over mark has been passed every effort seems to be made for the show not to go on and thus to minimise the entertainment offered to the paying public. Not only do the present laws encourage an over-sensitivity to anything less than perfect light, but even when play is taking place overs are bowled at such a funereal pace that there is never any chance of exceeding the minimum number of overs per day (even though that's calculated at the already slow rate of 15 per hour).
One of the reasons why the over rate is so slow was demonstrated by an example from yesterday's play: Anderson bowls, ball is played gently back to him. He then hurls the ball to wicketkeeper Ambrose before turning to amble extremely slowly back to his mark. Meanwhile the ball is passed to one of the slips who polishes it inelegantly on his backside for something like 30 seconds before throwing it to Vaughan standing level with the bowler's end stumps. Vaughan turns and walks to Anderson, who has just reached the end of his run-up, and hands him the ball before returning to his fielding position at mid-on. Result: about a minute between successive balls when it should have been less than half a minute.
So what are the remedies for these failings? I suggest:
1. Abandon the bad light law in its entirety.
2. Fine all members of a side that fails to bowl 15 overs per hour in any innings and award a significant number of extra runs to the opposition. (Umpires to use common sense in the event of genuine and justified interruptions in play.)
3. Permit only the bowler to polish the ball.
The cricketing authorities must look very hard at the quality of their main product and speedily remedy where it is deteriorating. Otherwise they will lose their best market, and many of the enthusiasts they lose will not turn to their other products: I (and many of my generation) will never attend a twenty-20 sideshow, it isn't cricket as we know it.

Peter Lamb said...

It is disappointing that this topic has not been significantly pursued either here or on Cricinfo: does no one care that the cricketing public is being short-changed? The constant interruptions when I was there on Thursday and Friday, and the lack of play on Saturday (when many club cricketers in the South East of England managed to overcome marginally adverse conditions) made this test match pretty well meaningless from very early on. Yet we see the England coach hypocritically saying his players wanted to get on and play: why didn't they turn down the offer of bad light on Friday evening then, when Strauss and Cook were having no difficulty and were on top of the NZ bowling?

Anonymous said...

I was also there on Friday and it was shambles. It looked like Bucknor was off to a show in the West End and had a pre-show dinner booked for 5.30pm. The was also no apparent correspondence between the level of the light and the players having to go off.

C couldn't agree more that cricket needs to realise it is in the entertainment business. On Saturday a friend of mine took 3 friends to Lord's for the first time. They are really football fans, but fancied going to see some cricket - an ideal opportunity to convert them to the wonderful game of cricket. They saw less than 9 overs (~9%). I then began to imagine fans trekking across the country to watch football and having the game called off after 8 minutes. Ridiculous. Needless to say these people are lost from cricket forever.

Of course, I couldn't be there to witness this particular day's debacle as I was playing cricket....all day....in the bad light and rain. Not that difficult!

Ed said...

I think people are reaching the point where they are past caring.

How about next year we all watch the cricket from a living room or pub with Sky enjoying a beer of glass of wine, without paying £65?