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

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