Joe Root admitted to frustrations over bad light but defended the umpires following the shortest Test match on English soil for 33 years in terms of balls bowled. Only 134.3 overs were sent down across the five days as rain and problems over the light saw England and Pakistan draw the second Test here, a result that sees the home side go into Friday’s series finale on the same ground 1-0 up.
Not since the two countries met at Lord’s in 1987, when 112.5 overs were bowled, has a Test in England been so badly affected, with the International Cricket Council now set to discuss the matter at the next meeting of its cricket committee. Among the topics up for debate are the use of a pink ball and encouraging more play under floodlights. The England and Wales Cricket Board is considering bringing in 10.30am starts to make up lost time and may even start this week with the third Test.
Root, whose side reached 110 for four declared in reply to Pakistan’s 236 all out, said: “I do think it’s hard to blame the umpires [Richard Kettleborough and Michael Gough]. I think there is something bigger that needs looking at, higher up the chain.
“I don’t think I have ever seen a game be affected by bad light as much as this, which is very frustrating. But also the weather as well, it’s been very wet throughout the week. It is frustrating and it’s obviously been a huge talking point. I do think it needs to be addressed somewhere, somehow.”
As well as greater use of the pink ball – either switching to it mid-game or electing to use one before a match that has a poor forecast – the ICC will discuss whether umpires should allow more play under floodlights and the need for increased transparency over the use of light meters and how such decisions are made.
Sky, which pays around £20m per Test, became increasingly angered by the lack of cricket here. It centred on the umpires taking the players off for bad light on day two – a call that looked cautious given Pakistan’s T20 players continued their training match, without floodlights, on the adjacent ground – and day four being abandoned at 3.45pm before an evening that saw the ground bathed in sunshine.
The latter may well have denied the TV viewers an estimated 90 minutes of live action and questions are being asked as to why this decision was made so early despite the players and broadcast crews all staying on site in the biosecure bubble this summer and therefore able to remain in situ for longer.
Root said: “It frustrated a lot of people seeing the sun out later on. Of course as players we don’t want to be sat watching it rain or on the sidelines.
“We want to play. We want to be involved in exciting Test cricket and try to make an impact on the world stage. We are all for playing, as long as it’s safe. [But] we don’t want anyone getting injured or hurt because of light or wet ground or surfaces.” The lack of spectators in the ground this summer and a dedicated Sky cricket channel that does not have other programming to consider has given rise to the talk of bringing start times forward when time lost to rain or bad light needs to be made up rather than simply adding extra overs to the end of a day.
This already happens in other parts of the world, where the evenings are shorter, and the ECB is understood to be discussing whether to bring this in ahead of Friday’s third Test, despite a more promising weather forecast. Root admitted the lack of action meant there was no need for players to be rested but he may still consider bringing back the pace of Jofra Archer or Mark Wood in order to further their experience amid the desire to build an attack for all conditions.
He added: “There is an element of looking forward, of course, but we have to make sure we look after what is in front of us and that is the final Test match this summer.”