The Ashes 2013-14 November 7, 2013

ECB on board for use of floodlights in Ashes

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England have finally relented from 15 years of opposition to the use of floodlights in Ashes matches in Australia, as both nations push the message to the ICC to ensure maximum possible playing hours be completed over the five Tests this summer.

Floodlights have been used in Tests in Australia since 1997, but, prior to this series, England had not agreed to their employment in Ashes matches down under, despite allowing floodlights to extend the playing hours in home Tests. As recently as 2010-11, the ECB had refused to permit the use of lights, forcing players off the field the moment the umpires deemed conditions to be unfair.

However, both the English and Australian boards are currently preaching a message of intolerance for the unnecessary loss of play, following the farcical finish to the fifth Test of the previous series at The Oval, when the hosts' chase for a fourth-innings target was stymied by the umpires on the grounds of safety despite no England batsman looking in any trouble. The ECB chairman Giles Clarke called the decision "totally unsatisfactory" and the result of "clearly unacceptable" regulations.

While the ICC's playing conditions around the use of lights and the umpires' discretionary powers over bad light and safe circumstances for play have not changed, the appointed officials for the Ashes will be strongly encouraged by Cricket Australia and the ECB to ensure the maximum number of overs are delivered. This includes permitting play to continue under lights and also to be stricter on the enforcement of reasonable over rates, which slowed to glacial speeds at times in England.

"Umpires need to take into account safety issues, that's a priority, but ultimately we have to play more," the CA chief executive James Sutherland said last month. "If the ground's a little bit slippery or the clouds happen to be coming over, you've got to keep playing. There are millions of people watching on TV, lots of people listening on the radio and heaps of people who paid good money to come into the ground.

"We've got to keep playing, that's our obligation to the public, and our umpires need to push the envelope and the players need to understand that we're playing the game, we're getting on with it. Today it might be unfair to you, and it might be an unfortunate situation that you feel disadvantaged with, but the tide will turn and the next time it happens it may well be that it's good for you.

"The broad principle is we need to play more and we've been pushing that with the ICC, and we've been in discussion with the ECB about this summer playing under artificial light. In previous Ashes series, there's been no suggestion of playing under artificial light, when we're off, we're off. But we've been talking to the ECB about that and it's just a matter of getting the playing conditions right and giving the umpires the terms of reference to use consistently."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ScottStevo on November 10, 2013, 17:46 GMT

    @landl47, it would be a fairer summary if you added the fact that Cook wouldn't bowl a spinner the evening beforehand and we lost x overs of play, that most likely would've seen Aus into a position where Clarke's declaration would've come with a lot less risk. Agree that there'd be no point in Clarke doing so if the scoreline was 1-0, although he definitely would've if the scoreline was anything other than that...Cook wouldn't have at 2/3-0 up, although maybe at 4 going for 5 :)

  • landl47 on November 10, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    @Mitty2: Australia declared 4 times, England once. However, as with so many things, context is everything. After 2 tests, England had declared once and were 2-0 up in the series. Aus hadn't declared at all. Aus HAD to win all 3 remaining tests, so they became more aggressive. By the last test, they were trying to salvage something from the wreckage so declaring wasn't a big deal.

    Remember that although Aus was trying to force a win, at OT it took them 36 overs to reach 172-7 in the second innings; at the Oval it was even worse, 23 overs to reach 111-6. When it counted, they couldn't deliver.

    As for England's chances but for bad light- 21 in 4 overs with 5 wickets in hand, Woakes going well with 17 from 13, Prior, Broad and Swann to come and Harris off injured- England wins 8 out of 10 and draws the other two.

  • whatawicket on November 8, 2013, 18:27 GMT

    i think if you look it was rain that decided the game at old trafford

  • whatawicket on November 8, 2013, 18:25 GMT

    it was only reading the comment about the 5th test at the oval that i realized how close England were to making it 4 -0

  • 2929paul on November 8, 2013, 13:19 GMT

    I pay to watch 90 overs bowled in a day. The teams are supposed to bowl at 15 overs an hour on average through the day to achieve this. If they do, subject to rain, there shouldn't be a problem with overunning into the time when bad light becomes a serious issue. Even gloomy conditions during mid afternoon are generally playable as the sun is high. I agree with others that the authorities should get tougher on teams not bowling their overs at the required rate. There's no excuse not to be able to bowl 15 overs in an hour, or 30 in a session, even if you have two fast bowlers all the time. These guys need to remember they are in the entertainment business and if we don't watch, they won't get paid. That's why the IPL such a success for everyone involved, love it or hate it.

  • dunger.bob on November 8, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    As a cricket lover all I want is to see as much play as possible. If using floodlights can give us that, I really can't see what the problem is. .. Good move I say.

  • RedDirt on November 8, 2013, 0:53 GMT

    It's funny. I remember when England were getting flogged by us that floodlights was another antipodean conspiracy, which left all of us divided and conquered, wondering whether it would either kill cricket or benefit one country over the other. I guess some people have short memories...? *cough* *cough*.

  • Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on November 7, 2013, 22:16 GMT

    @ wibblewibble before you start throwing insults around maybe you should have first researched the facts; the umpires told both teams that play was to dangerous for fast bowling and if both teams agreed to play with spin being bowled at either end than play would continue, this resulted in Michael Clarke agreeing and the English batsman running off, which they are entitled to do. Now that being said the umpires set the precedent for bad light in the series on that reading at old Trafford and that is why when light deteriorated beyond that reading they were obligated to offer the same rules as that of the old Trafford game, which resulted in Michael Clarke and the Australians leave the field after being offered ''bad light''. Now the old rules of offering bad light might have changed but they still apply to this situation. Glad to have cleared that up for you old chap.

  • Mitty2 on November 7, 2013, 20:57 GMT

    We declared twice (just out of curiousity how many more times did we declare more than eng anyone?) in that test and eng needed over 20 runs off 4 overs... Far from guaranteed. If Eng fans think they were deserving for a 4-0 win they're hugely inflating how well Eng played in the Ashes. We all know how it went, Aus had a lot of good sessions but Eng's experience allowed them to dominate the key stages (mixed with iur diabolical batting). But in the fifth test, the only sessions they won was when there should of ben no contest, only for clarke to give the test match a chance by declaring early. Agree with landl47.