“Hi Adam.” David Wall, good morning. “Didn’t Stuart Broad discuss (and ruthlessly dismiss as though it was an out-of-form batter) your idea about switching to a (suitably aged) pink ball when it gets too dark to use the red one? His point was that it would be enormously unfair on the batting side at the point of the change because the two balls can behave so differently. I’m not sure I find that such a problem, after all, teams are always affected by changes in conditions (e.g. batting early or late in the day in the sub-continent when the dew forms on the pitch very quickly and heavily, changes in cloud cover, etc). But perhaps more of a worry is you might get days, and matches, where the light changes so often that you’ve forever having to switch between the red and pink ball, perhaps as often as every 5 overs. It would become farcical.”
He might’ve, I didn’t see that. And he’s right about it being much tougher. But then again, isn’t this the entire argument against day-night Test cricket in a nutshell, that it is tougher for batsmen under lights? Thankfully, I think anyway, we moved beyond that in the space of the first 12 months or so. Much the same way that there’s an acceptance that bowling in Australia can be hellish for seamers, right? And on point two, once the ball is changed to pink, that would need to be it.
“Morning Adam.” Hello, Andrew Cosgrove. “The forecast I’ve seen is rain this morning, then a downpour at lunch, followed by more rain this afternoon. There will be plenty of time to discuss bad light all day. With regards red balls and pink balls, you said ‘but we are dealing with that via the change in ball colour’. But I think what a lot of people don’t appreciate is that it’s not just a case of the colour of the ball, it’s not possible to reproduce the dye and lacquer of the red ball in a different colour, so the pink ball is fundamentally different. They’re just not nearly as good. This is why I think changing the ball when the light is bad won’t work, and is arguably less of a working option than just swtiching permanently to the pink ball (which I think would be a bad idea too).”
My sense from talking to the players about this is that they felt that way in 2015 but not quite as much now. Basically, there’s an acceptance that the pink ball has improved and is closer to the red. But as I said at the end of my post, this isn’t a perfect fix, but if looking for a way to keep play going under lights, this’ll do that.
“Happy Birthday Adam.” Thank you, Brian Withington. “I like your pink ball substitution proposition but I’d let the batsmen decide when it was time to use it after the umpires offer the option. And we can’t let the moment pass without (once again) referencing the late great Peter Cook’s reference to the ‘pink oboe’ during the judge’s summary after the Jeremy Thorpe trial. Priceless.”
I could come at that. It’s an interesting part of the discussion around bad light that the batsmen are no longer consulted. The only real discretion seems to be when fielding teams can continue bowling provided they only use their spinners.
An unpleasant weather forecast via Guardian occasional Chris Stocks, on twitter. “BBC Weather’s Tomasz Schafernaker: ‘It’s not changing for the next few days. On the radar further drizzle is upstream heading straight for Southampton. The weather is stagnant and not moving – I’ve got no good news!’” Uh oh.
An idea in from Abhijato Sensarma. “I have seen you be an advocate for using the pink ball under bad light for at least a year now, and I think there is merit to the idea. As I’ve done in the past too, I would like to complement this by saying that a day in Test cricket should be divided into four sessions of 23 overs each instead of three sessions of 30 each. This will allow players to be more refreshed and on top of their game, especially in strenuous weather like the Indian and Australian summers. If we use the pink ball under the lights like you suggest (or even throughout the match), we would be getting more live cricket without burning out the players or kicking up frequent controversies about bad light.”
Interesting. So, we use the pink ball in the final 23 under your plan. I’d counter by saying that the objective is to play as many overs as possible with the red ball – the red ball, for mine, makes for better cricket. So, I wouldn’t be hard-and-fast about when the ball needs to change every day. Just that it could change, as required.
Perhaps my favourite rainy OBO discussion was during the World Cup last year as India and New Zealand were washed out at Trent Bridge. For reasons that I won’t bore you with, I spent the first hour posting from a gutter out the front shielding my screen from drizzle before getting into the press box, where we spent the next four hours talking about one topic and one topic only: umbrellas in the sky.
Now, I don’t want to repeat that – it was done then and done well – but I am obliged to post this email from Michael Keane, who informs me that there has been progress since the last time we talked (indeed, from today’s paper!), with the Irish on the front foot. I’ll hand over to him. And this doesn’t even require drones!
“I’ve just been reading about the world’s biggest sports air dome, built by a Slovenian company in the west of Ireland. Every summer we ask, when will we be able to play cricket in the rain? ‘We can put a man on the moon and yet…’ as his odiousness used to say. So if we’re not going to have crowds anyway, surely we can just have a big cricket super dome. Sounds like they constructed it in a week or something!” Thanks for this. For related chat, here’s that OBO from last June.
The weather is horrible. Sky just gave us a wideshot and it was very dark, raining and altogether awful. Ali tells me that Broad and Anderson have packed it in for now and have walked back to their hotel rooms. As Ian Ward put it: “yuk.”
I’ve recruited some Willie J Healey fans. Good to see. And there’s a link to cricket, I neglected to mention. Felix White, who hosts the brilliant Tailenders with Jimmy Anderson and Greg James, has WJH on his Yala! label. “I hadn’t heard of him before but when I listened I heard George Harrison,” writes Colin Hind. “I mean that as a compliment. Great song and arrangement.” Yep, his debut album was out last week and it’s quite something. Here’s another of his lovely tracks to get your teeth into.
“Thanks for the video link,” adds Damien Clarke. “I’m liking that. May I suggest a suitable one for anyone getting jittery about the prospect of limited play today?” Nice one. I’ll pop it on.
“Morning from the playground in Didsbury @collinsadam, where I’m sure you’d be if you weren’t putting a shift in today.” All ahead of me, Guy Hornsby! “How ironic that it’s glorious in Manchester this weekend. I’d say this Test could be s draw but with these attacks, anything feels possible, eh. Oh cricket.” Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Let’s open the inbox. Alisdair Macdonald Gould is off the mark first, saying nice things. Thank you. “How many candles?” 36 of them. The best gift was a card from baby Winnie (six months yesterday, blimey) with her footprints in paint.
“Birthday greetings, Adam.” Thank you, Spencer Robinson. “I’m on day 13 of a two-week hotel quarantine in Penang. I’m awaiting a beautiful sunset … and keeping everything crossed for some fascinating cricket to get me through these final few hours of what has been a seemingly interminable lockdown.”
I really hope we can give you that. The forecast isn’t that bad – I promise. Then again, it wasn’t that bad either yesterday. Light will again be our main challenge.
I shouldn’t be that surprised that some people have taken great offence at me describing the 15th of August as the opening day of last year’s Ashes Test. Yes, I know the 14th was a washout – I was there. Chill out. The first day was, therefore, day two. Not too difficult to comprehend an otherwise pleasant reflection, was it?
Peter Haining has done me a good turn here, finding the mighty overseas TMS link before I have to google it myself! You’re a good egg – thank you. Here it is.
An updated pic form the ground, and another update from Ali Martin now that he’s in the ground at Southampton. “Right, am now set up in the A̶d̶v̶a̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶H̶a̶i̶r̶ ̶S̶t̶u̶d̶i̶o̶ Shane Warne Stand and can confirm that yes, both bad light and mizzle mean we’re probably better off spending the morning watching yesterday’s warm and fuzzy video of Younis and Yasir on loop.”
Bad light (always) stops play. Okay, I know it doesn’t, but it certainly has felt that way at times in this truncated Test summer. Jimmy Anderson was talking to the press last night and was fairly grumpy about how it all played out yesterday.
Let me put to you a solution I’ve been tossing around for a couple of years. I preface this by saying that I know the OBO can be a tough crowd when it comes to fairly radical reform. But hear me out, in the spirit of trying to find a better way.
Now, we know that Test cricket can be played under floodlights. We’ve done it plenty of times since November 2015 during the first day-night match. We have a pink ball (a couple of them) that does the trick in a safe enough fashion.
But is it desirable to play with a pink ball all the time? I would argue, no. The best Test cricket is with a red ball in the daylight. By best, I mean when the ball behaves in a way that gives us the contests that we crave. There’s no need to ditch the red.
However. And it’s a big however. Why not both? Why not use the red ball all day long until the point where the assessment has been made that it is too dangerous to continue? And let’s not debate that point, by the way: I trust fielders at point and square let who tell us how hard a dark ball is to pick up under floodlights.
I digress. What do we do when the red ball is no longer safe? Well, change it up. For the overs that remain between then and the close, give the fielding team a choice of pink balls of comparable age. Maybe they use it for four overs, perhaps 14. Whatever it takes to get those overs in. Then the next day, back to the red.
This isn’t completely perfect and, of course, it would mean a trickier time for batsmen having to adjust in the very final stanza of the day. But isn’t cricket always about adjusting to changing conditions? Sure, we don’t want safety to be one of them, but we are dealing with that via the change in ball colour, albeit briefly.
How have I gone? Drop me a line. Let’s have a constructive chat while it rains.
“I’m two miles from the ground and I have my windscreen wipers on.” The words of our man, Ali Martin, who called to relay the likelihood that it’s going to be another one of those mornings. Sorry. But it doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. You can do so by emailing or tweeting. Or find me on AOL or ICQ or MSN Messenger. Is Friendster still a thing? Will you find my own journal entries on MySpace?
Speaking of our team of Guardian cricket writers, while we wait for play, you might enjoy an interview on Geoff Lemon and my Final Word podcast that we’ve re-booted for the weekend: our long discussion with Vic Marks in 2017. We sat down with him at his Perth hotel a few hours after Australia had retained the Ashes. But this chat wasn’t about that Test, rather, his lovely lifelong journey in the game.
Welcome to the third day of this second Test between England and Pakistan. The tourists are set to resume at 223/9 after just 40.2 overs were possible yesterday; not many more than the day before – we’ve essentially lost a day. But not to worry, this pitch is gives the impression that it will spit and seam (and probably spin) throughout, so there should be more than enough time to get a result by Monday.
The most interesting portion of the morning session is bound to be the interrogation Mohammad Abbas gives the England’s openers. On the evidence of what we’ve seen, it’s hard to imagine a surface better suited his classy brand medium pace. Rory Burns and Dom Sibley will need to bat exceptionally.
For my part, I can’t help but think of this day twelve months ago. Then, it was the first morning of the Lord’s Ashes Test, a stunning day played in front of a packed house. I know, because it was my birthday and I was steering the good ship OBO through the first half of it. Despite the fact that the weather is grim and the crowds are non-existent, it’s lovely to be with you again for this iteration of August 15!
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