No excuse for so many of Test cricket’s dark days


The bad light rule is a blight on the game. It needs to be replaced by the rule of common sense. If spinners are bowling then it’s not “dangerous” for the batsmen and it’s not “unreasonable” if the ball keeps disappearing out of the ground.

Cricket keeps finding reasons not to play. Sight screens that get stuck. Spectators within 20 metres of sight screens who move when the screens are not stuck. Bad light, bad weather, bad balls, bad gear. Reviews of the bleeding obvious.

Cricketers are good conversationalists because they have plenty of time to stand around chatting.

It’s like pompous rugby referees who tick off players like errant schoolboys while the clock’s running down or get out their protractors to reset scrums.

Just get out of the way so we can get on with the game.

It’s ironic that this latest episode of cricket slapstick took place on the same day that Channel Seven took Cricket Australia to court over their $450 million broadcast deal.

Channel Nine abandoned cricket for tennis, with Ash Barty winning the Australian Open women’s title last January.Credit:AP

If cricket can’t get out of its own way broadcasters are going to become increasingly agitated about where they put their many millions of dollars and the game will suffer as a result. A League anyone?

After fighting the World Series Cricket war in the late ’70s to gain control of the sport’s broadcast rights, Channel Nine, publishers of this masthead, dumped cricket for the Australian Open tennis.

Seven West Media CEO James Warburton said in February he would aggressively bid to bring the tennis rights back to Seven.

The Australian Open does not stop for bad light and if it rains they close the roof at Melbourne Park.

And the Australian Open goes for 14 days regardless, unlike the most recent Boxing Day Test. It was scheduled for five days and went for little more than two. That left about 17 hours of very expensive dead air time for broadcasters Channel 7 and Fox.

While Galle doesn’t have floodlights, here is a simple solution for the vast majority of Test venues that do. Stopping for bad light is banned. Instead, the red ball is replaced by a pink ball with the equivalent number of overs and we play under lights.

Or we abandon the red ball completely and play Test cricket with a pink ball from now on.

An early version of the pink ball used for day/night Tests.

An early version of the pink ball used for day/night Tests.Credit:AP

And in this new age of a rapidly greening world there is plenty of room on grandstand roofs to put solar panels and an executive car park somewhere to build a big battery so we can have net-zero lighting every time a cloud passes in front of the sun.

No, the game won’t be the same with a pink ball, but cricket survived moving from underarm to overarm bowling, thanks to women being unable to bowl underarm in large dresses, and motoring moved forward at pace once a man waving a red flag was no longer required to walk in front of a moving car.

However small and seemingly irrelevant Thursday’s premature walk off may appear, it is part of an endemic curse. Cricket must do better.

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