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April 1, 2002
Before ground lighting can be used to allow Test cricket to benefit by extending the hours of play, changes will need to be made to lighting at New Zealand grounds.
That's New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming's view after yet another day was abandoned early today in the National Bank Test Series due to poor light, even while ground lights were turned on.
With this series against England having been played so late in the summer, and a chill wind in Auckland today was enough to make anyone realise that winter is just around the corner, several days during the last two Tests, especially, have been lost to bad light.
Fleming said that before New Zealand could benefit, specific lighting for cricket was required.
Because of the multi-purpose nature of New Zealand's grounds, rugby was the main focus for lighting and while it was possible to get away with sub-standard lighting for One-Day Internationals it was not suitable for Tests.
"I think it has to be a definite light for the middle of the ground and that can often be expensive, especially in New Zealand, so that has to be worked on, and also the colour of the ball," he said.
The light today, even with the lights on, had been marginal, and it was an unnatural light, Fleming said.
"It's a position that is out of our hands," Fleming said of the choice to leave the field of play.
"If you are in a position where you get offered the light, you are going to take it," he said.
While promotion of the game was a good thing, all teams had to share in the desire to play or the teams that did would be at a disadvantage, he said.
Fleming said it was similar to the hold-ups to play caused when specific areas of the ground were damp and those teams usually in the field were reluctant starters.
He acknowledged that as the game changed each team was going to have different views, depending on the state of the game.
But at the same time teams needed to remember they were in the entertainment business.
"We've got to be a little bit careful we don't get too precious about the areas that are going to cause concern," he said as a general statement and not with today's game in mind.
"I think what you have to look at is how much play there is in a certain area.
If it is by the wicket and in general play then there's obviously concern, but if it's towards the outskirts then there's got to be less concern because the ball is probably there less than one per cent of the game.
"Work out what area is dangerous, or what area is not fit, and how much of an influence that is going to have on the game," he said.
But he was also conscious that if he came out and said "we should play anyway" and someone got injured then he would be left with egg on his face.
On a personal note, Fleming, who turned 29 today, moved to 99 catches in Test cricket, already the most by a New Zealander.
However, it is still obvious that the drop of Nasser Hussain in the first Test which allowed the England captain to go on and score a series-defining century, still rankled. It was one miss of about six he can recall missing, including three key ones.
"I can number the ones I have dropped because they are important to me," he said.
When he takes his 100th he will be the 18th player to achieve the feat and will be in select company.
Those ahead of him are: Mark Waugh 173, Mark Taylor 157, Allan Border 156, Greg Chappell and Viv Richards 122, Ian Botham and Colin Cowdrey 120, Walter Hammond and Bob Simpson 110, Gary Sobers 109, Sunil Gavaskar 108, Brian Lara 107, Carl Hooper 106, Mohammad Azharuddin and Ian Chappell 105, Graham Gooch 103, Steve Waugh 102.
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