Clarke wants clarity on bad light
Australia's captain Michael Clarke has said the first two days of the first Test against New Zealand were called off in conditions that were not dangerous, and believes a clearer distinction must be drawn between light that is potentially harmful to players and light that is merely difficult.
Clarke spoke with the umpires Asad Rauf and Aleem Dar at the end of the first day, asking them if that standard would be maintained throughout the match. An identical light meter reading brought the teams off on day two with blue sky still visible above the Gabba, prompting Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland to take up the issue with the ICC.
Test cricket's ongoing health is hurt by the hasty decisions to interrupt play, and Clarke agreed the players could have stayed on the field in Brisbane for longer on each of the first two days.
"It's a tough one. You set a standard with day one and then that's how it stays for the whole Test," Clarke said after making 139 on day three. "I think we as players need to be told to understand a little better what we're trying to do. If we say we're going to play on until it is dangerous, then you can keep going a little bit longer.
"As a batsman it is the hardest time to bat, no doubt when you come in, it's overcast, the lights are on and have taken effect. But is it dangerous? Probably not. So it is a tough mix but what has happened in South Africa and here is you set your standard on day one, so you get your light meter and say 'this is what we're going to go to' and you stick with that throughout the game. I like the consistency, but it is about to what level we're going to take it."
Clarke has found rich vein of form - his century was his third in six innings - and he has also been encouraged by the progress of the team, which has gradually overpowered New Zealand over the course of three days.
"A little bit of luck goes a long way and helps, but most importantly a really good day from us, from the team," Clarke said. "Ricky [Ponting] yesterday was outstanding and would've been disappointed not to make a hundred, Brad Haddin outstanding and our tail wagged as well. James Pattinson looked really good, picking up an important wicket. So very nice personally to make some runs, but more importantly for our team we're in a really good position in this Test match."
Ponting's 76 was another instance of the former captain failing to go on to a century - he has now gone 29 Test innings without one, but it was his second consecutive healthy score following his 62 in the second innings in Johannesburg.
"I thought he batted really well in South Africa in that second innings, and he continued on from there, so he's brought some momentum home with him, and it was really nice," Clarke said. "I thought that ball today was going to just get over leg stump and I tried to use the referral. I'm sure he's disappointed he didn't make a hundred, but he's not far away, that's for sure."
Similarly encouraging was Haddin's 80, after he was elevated to be vice-captain in the absence of Shane Watson. Not so long ago Haddin was being interrogated ferociously about his future.
"I think he took a lot of satisfaction out of the second innings in South Africa, no doubt he felt like he was under pressure, needed to perform and he's been working hard for a while now," Clarke said. "I think it was a real positive for him, and then coming into the summer he's trained hard and his confidence is back up.
"You see how he played, that's how Hadds plays at his best and there's going to be times he gets out playing his shots, but when he's positive in his mind and attacking in the way he plays, I think that is when he has the most success. Hadds is a senior player and a leader in the team, so he doesn't need a c or vc beside his name, he knows he's a very important senior player in the team, and he responds to that consistently. It is an extra bonus he's been given the vice-captaincy, but it won't make any difference if he hasn't got that."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo