Pink ball? Start earlier? Change of mindset? Nasser Hussain and Shane Warne on how to fix bad light

How do you solve the issue of bad light in cricket?

It is a question that has been debated thoroughly throughout the second Test between England and Pakistan at The Ageas Bowl with seemingly dark skies and rain combining to prevent less than 100 overs being bowled.

Sky Sports pundits Shane Warne, Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton discussed the matter during one such delay, coming up with potential solutions to keeping cricket on in the gloom.

Sky Sports has invited the ICC to join Sky Sports Cricket and comment on this issue but the ICC has declined that offer, saying they do not comment during active matches.

NASSER HUSSAIN – Play in less-than-ideal conditions, start games earlier, and change the old-school mindset…

“At the end of day three when we had very little rain, after a week of record temperatures, we had only had 86 overs of cricket. That is not good enough. Merely because conditions are not ideal, merely because the red ball is not picked up as well, is not a reason to walk off the field.

“Because we have been brought up in an era where we play so much cricket, we all woke up and occasionally opened our curtains and thought ‘thank goodness it’s raining’. We were all offered the light at 5pm and the first thing we did was take it. We can’t afford to do that anymore.

“These are unusual times. Countries have flown over and sacrificed a lot to go in quarantine – Jack Leach has been in a bubble for weeks without playing a game of cricket – and when you have an opportunity to play and the world is watching, do everything you can to stay on.

Imagine taking a kid to a Test match. They have looked forward to it all week. It gets a bit dark, they turn the lights on and 10 minutes later they are walking off. The kid turns to you and says ‘why are they going off?’ and you say ‘the light’s not good enough?’ Explain that. You have to try and stay on wherever possible.

Nasser Hussain

“We cannot have the old mindset of doing everything you can to go off. Millions are watching and the ECB, even if we put all our cricket on this summer, could be over £100m down. We can’t afford to lose spectators that are desperate for cricket.

“On Sunday play was called off and fifteen minutes later there was bright sunshine. Even if it takes two hours to get the ground ready, you are still playing at 6pm, three hours it’s 7pm. Do whatever you can to stay on. Try and use every window of opportunity.

“Also, why don’t we start at 10.30am in the morning when it is perfect sunshine and we know the rain is coming. Why don’t we make up time then? At the end of the day when it’s getting darker we make up half an hour but at the beginning of the day when it’s getting lighter we don’t make up half an hour. Where is the sense in that?”

SHANE WARNE – Use pink cricket balls and tweak timings of play

“I think pink balls should be used. It’s not just here in England where we have trouble with bad light. If we lower the light level for what is deemed dangerous and use a pink ball, when the lights come on it is a lot easier to see. If that means a pink ball in bright sunshine during the day you can still see the ball easier.

“I reckon what all ball manufacturers should come up with is the best pink ball possible and the ICC says this is the one that holds up under all conditions and we are going to use this for Test cricket. The crowd will see it better and I think we will stay out there longer.

“At the moment, I think we are going off when it’s not dangerous enough. I think you should have the light meter at a certain reading and stick to it so I think we could go a little bit lower and challenge when we go off. Is it dangerous right now or should we play on?

“I think we could also change the timings. We don’t always have to have lunch at a certain time. We could play two and a half hours, have a 20-minute break, and then go out there for two hours again. Why not take lunch at 3pm?

“When the conditions are right, we should be maximising the time of play. I think these short breaks are ridiculous. Why play for an hour and then go off for 40 minutes?”

MICHAEL ATHERTON – Be flexible and show more impetus

“There is room in there for a bit more flexibility than perhaps has been seen. If you ask any international umpire they will always use a light meter and always set a benchmark reading for the game. The regulations actually allow for a bit more flexibility. It is subjective.

“The umpires can say ‘we don’t think this bowling is good enough, this is a No 3 batsman, not a No 8 batsman, he is perfectly protected, the pitch is flat, we will allow play to happen’. Why the umpires don’t do that is because they want to be seen to be fair to both sides but I think this is an issue the game has to grasp.

It would be lovely to hear from a match referee or an umpire. We rang the ICC and asked them to put their side of it and were told they don’t communicate in the middle of a match. I do not think that is good enough. I think the umpires and match referee would love to put their side of it and tell us why there has been so little cricket. Then people could hear from who makes the decisions.

Michael Atherton

“The general public will find it very hard to understand why we are not playing with floodlights on. The game is dangerous in any circumstances and I don’t think that when the light deteriorates to a degree that that makes in any more dangerous.

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