England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 4th day June 10, 2012

Cricket continues to score own goals

Despite improvements in the game's administration, cricket has not addressed the problem of not showing enough respect to spectators

And they wonder why it is such a struggle to fill grounds for Tests. Despite a multi-million pound investment in floodlights, spectators were forced to endure an hour-long hiatus on the fourth-day at Edgbaston as the umpires took the players from the pitch due to bad light.

If the decision to come off was perplexing - England's batsman had scored 45 runs in the previous 43 deliveries and were proceeding with an ease that underlined the suspicion that there was no problem with the light - the decision to remain off was bewildering. With Edgbaston's floodlights on and the natural light appearing quite adequate, spectators began to heckle and jeer the umpires.

Warwickshire had done pretty well to sell in excess of 53,000 tickets for this Test. After all, the series had been decided and the weather had ruined any realistic prospect of a result in the match.

Yet the fourth day crowd of around 5,000 - that is 20,000 under capacity - was bitterly disappointing. The ticket price of £43 was surely one factor - in a city built on manufacturing the recession has bitten hard - but, in the longer term, the years of contempt with which spectators have been treated has also had an effect. Years of seeing play lost because the grass on the edge of the square was damp, the light was questionable or simply because the over-rate has been too slow has created a culture where spectators are reluctant to part with large sums of money in case they are not given full value. Put simply, cricket is not treating the customer with the respect it should.

The situation has improved markedly in recent years, but days like this - where play is suspended in decent light and floodlights on - set the game back years.

Those who were present on Sunday still enjoyed a wonderfully improbable and entertaining day of cricket. But cricket's propensity to self harm left a sour taste in the mouth which was an unhelpful as it was unnecessary. Cricket is simply not popular enough that it can afford to treat its customers with so little respect. If a player tweeting his views on a commentator is enough to warrant a fine, what action should be taken against umpires who misjudge the situation quite so spectacularly? To compound the error, the day finished in light so much worse than the period when the players had been in the pavilion that if was laughable.

The ICC Match Referee, Roshan Mahanama, was asked for his comments but declined to provide them.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on June 11, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    @Harjinder Singh Lallie on (June 11 2012, 07:55 AM GMT) - Yes they quoted those prices on the commentary - I believe buying a ticket for Sunday got you free admission on Monday. However , who would have been that bothered when the game was always likely to go nowhere and then there was no play today either. It seems a false economy charging those prices for a dead rubber match which had already been deprived 2 days due to the weather

  • Matthew on June 11, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    @Harjinder Singh Lallie I totally agree. I looked at going down for a couple of days over the weekend for this test. Then i saw the prices...... All i can afford this year is one day of the SA test down the road at Headingley where I don't have to pay much for travel.

  • david on June 11, 2012, 12:22 GMT

    as the WI coach said during the 1st/2nd test between eng. that the aussies were very lucky to win the test series 0 - 2. they had numerous chances to win that series. also the odis. how this aussie team can think they are # 1 in odis when the majority of their current team have not gained that position.

  • Michael on June 11, 2012, 11:37 GMT

    Giving these matters to the bureaucrats is stupid. leave it to the batsmen to determine, and stop treating the fans like a complete irrelevance. The last thing Edgbastonj needed was to have a couple more lopped off the days play., in some cynical exercise of power and authority. I am not sure lightmeters are a better judge than the naked eye anyway. In england it's usually gloomy anyway,and if one went off everytime it got a bit dark no-one would play. O(bviously the light is okay to play when the side batting are going at 7/ over. End these farces, ICC. Try using humans more, technology less.

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    As I understand it, deciding on the quality of the light was put in the hands - and the light meter - of the umpires to do away with tactical or frivolous appeals by the batting or bowling side. Which is fine, but for one thing - reducing the question of whether a game can continue to a figure on a dial removes the human element from the equation. Pietersen and Bell had scored 45 off 43 balls; given the choice they would probably have carried on, and the responsibility would have been theirs if they then got out to the fast bowlers. Which is the way the game should be played. Now, even more importantly - when are they going to sort out the problem with the floodlights? At the moment they just seem to be wasting electricity, blazing away to make play possible and then, when it gets strong enough to cast multiple shadows, being used as yet another excuse to take the players off. Once again, leave it up to the players

  • Rayner on June 11, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    ahhh.. randyoz, your memory as short as ever, I believe we ave bowled out the west indies every time that they've batted, something that Australia's mix of trundlers and sprayers didn't manage! also we've some out and scored some runs at a decent pace rather than borning the poor fans to to sleep scoring at 2.5 an over, why is it that the might australia can no longer score at more than 3 an over?

  • John on June 11, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    @RandyOZ, good to see that your comments are as relevant as ever. That innings by Tino Best sure puts Australia's performance in the last Ashes into perspective, doesn't it?

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    When bad light strikes at about 4.30 or 5.00 in a Test and they go off, it always intrigues me to think back to 1.00 when they went off voluntarily for 40 minutes, when the light was perfect - and NINE of the 22 players were already in the pavillion anyway!!! OK, I know the batsmen and fielding team need a break, but I can't believe that in this day and age, they can't come up with a more flexible structure for the playing times. Cricket needs to compete with other forms of entertainment and to lose such a large chunk of time when conditions are almost always at their best is just crazy.

  • James on June 11, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    Great article as usual. With helmets, bad light should no longer exist as it is now not dangerous for cricket to take place. I believe the rule says bad light can occur if it is unfair - but surely unfairness is part of the game e.g. losing the toss on a green seamer on an overcast day. Come to think of it, Warne and McGrath had a pretty 'unfair' advantage against most sides too!

  • Randolph on June 11, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    England are in serious, serious trouble no matter how much Mark Nicolas tries to talk them up. Not removing Best? Haha, farcical!

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