Nielsen questions three-hour sessions
Australia's coach Tim Nielsen has questioned the wisdom of playing Test cricket well into the evening after stumps was not called until 8.03pm on the fourth day of Australia's match against South Africa in Perth. More than an hour was lost to rain during the day and the time was tacked on at the end, along with an extra 30 minutes to make up for slow overs, which pushed the close significantly past the scheduled finish of 6.30pm.
The light held out - just - but Jacques Kallis took advantage of Australia's bowlers battling to stay at their peak and 27 runs came from the last three overs. "It concerns me when we're playing three-hour sessions," Nielsen said. "It's a long time to be out on the ground and it would be the same if somebody lost two wickets in the last quarter of an hour as well, you'd question if it was quite fair.
"This time it was the bowlers that probably lost concentration and started to fatigue and got whacked around a little bit. I understand that we've got a responsibility to put as much cricket as we can into the day and make up the time that we need to but at the same time not at the cost of the level of the contest. It's something we've got to be aware of."
Perth is two hours behind Sydney and Melbourne and to cater for the television audience in the heavily populated eastern states, play does not begin until 11.30am local time. Nielsen said it was not a problem for players to adjust to differing start times but the issues occurred at the end of the day.
"It's even to the stage where we play some games under lights, some games aren't played under lights," he said. "It's a tough one that we need to work out and probably get some consistency."
Nielsen said the players would not have finished their recovery process until around 9pm, which made it a long day after they arrived at the ground before 10am. He was concerned about how fresh they would be for the fifth day as they aimed to collect seven wickets and stop South Africa from scoring the 187 they needed for victory.
"It's a long day isn't it," he said. "That'll be one of our biggest challenges tomorrow, to scrub up and be fresh and ready to go right from the start to make sure South Africa don't get away from us and we can switch on from ball one."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo