Sri Lanka v South Africa, 1st ODI, Colombo July 6, 2014

Floodlights restriction hurts Sri Lanka's chase


Sri Lanka Cricket's attempts to cut operational costs has affected the cricket in the first ODI, when the hosts lost wickets chasing a Duckworth-Lewis equation, after light faded quickly in the late afternoon. Angelo Mathews said the deteriorating light at the Premadasa Stadium had spurred a change in his team's approach, as they pursued 305. However, he had not been consulted before SLC and Cricket South Africa signed the memorandum of understanding that prevented the lights being switched on when conditions became too dark for comfort.

Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne had sought to accelerate their scoring in the gloom, ostensibly to get ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis equation, but both lost their wickets attempting expansive strokes. There had also been the threat of rain when the pair were at the crease, though that did not materialise through the course of the evening.

The ICC's playing conditions does not make the use of floodlights compulsory for day matches, even if the light dips below what is normally acceptable on a ground with floodlight facilities. An SLC official confirmed financial savings had been the primary driver behind SLC's decision to exercise that leeway, while SLC CEO Ashley de Silva said even foreign boards do not contractually allow floodlight use in day matches when Sri Lanka tour.*

"No board wants to have that back-up system for day games," de Silva said. "That happened to us even in England. Actually, when the MOU was drafted and being discussed, this light issue never even cropped up, so both boards were in agreement."

Floodlights had originally been unavailable for the Saturday's match in Hambantota as well, but SLC and CSA have arranged to have a generator on standby for that match, since the events of first ODI.** That two of the three games are being played in the day is also, in part, thanks to cost-cutting.

Mathews largely blamed two dropped catches and poor shot selection for the defeat, but said the encroaching darkness had also played a part.

"When we hit the 34-over mark, it was getting dark and we needed to be on top of the Duckworth-Lewis," Mathews said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't use the lights, so we had to stay on top of the D/L. We lost a couple of wickets and then it was all over for us.

"We had a good game in our hands at one point. Unfortunately, the situation changes and we've got to go with the situation. In the end we had to change our approach a little because of the light, but we also didn't play well. If we can use the lights, it will be good because it gets a bit dark in the evening. I'm not really sure why, but we were told at the match referee's meeting we won't be able to use it."

South Africa captain AB de Villiers played down the impact of Sri Lanka's change of tack in the 34th over, suggesting the hosts' aggression had the potential to take the game away from South Africa as well. But he was also vexed by the inability to use the floodlights in a stadium equipped with them.

"I didn't think we should be playing when it was dark like that," he said. "We would like to use the lights. I would like us to play under lights when that happens again."

*The confirmation that savings had been SLC's motivation for not allowing floodlight use was originally attributed to Ashley de Silva. It had been provided by another SLC official. **Details of the new arrangement for the Hambantota ODI have been updated following SLC's release on Tuesday.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    The easiest way to tackle Amla Dravid Pujara's who tend to play balls from stumps towards leg side (Amla excessively back footish too) and cannot strike smashing 4's let alone sixes, (their 4's just roll over the line) is to block their singles by keeping short mid wicket short cover, keeping mid on & mid off straightish and attack their stumps. Sanjay spotted this weakness in Pujara, Aussies found it in Dravid but a lil too Late, Amla was exposed by Paki bowler Irfan.

    Besides their only boundary shot of good length or shortish ball is edge so block their edges too by keeping deep third man & fine leg fine.

  • Peter on July 7, 2014, 15:56 GMT

    All comments above are similar so the authorities concerned should take these comments seriously . Moreover the ICC should have some rules and regulations in case of use of lights etc or about the referals as well. Why we have ICC if the boards can decide the rules or the regulations of a series?

  • Dummy4 on July 7, 2014, 14:52 GMT

    If u guys won't use flood lights then, u better start the game a bit early. 9.30 am start may be

  • udendra on July 7, 2014, 8:50 GMT

    So both the captains wanted lights, but their respective boards didn't think so?

  • Dummy4 on July 7, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    It was an utter disgrace to see what went on at the first ODI between SA & SL yesterday. Who ever is responsible for not permitting to use the flood lights should be disciplined and penalised by the ICC. What is the purpose of the lights?

    SA played very well and SL were not playing too bad either. One or two SL players need to get their priorities sorted. One huge mistake SL made was appointing Chandimal as a captain at such an early stage and they put the matter right. Then SL cricket go on and appoint Thirimanne as the Vice captain for all three forms. Just look what has happened to his performance. He should be relinquished of his extra responsibilities and made to regain his form before he is included in the squad.

  • Peter on July 7, 2014, 7:24 GMT

    Angelo Mathews is a good captain - But he must agree that SA did play well . It is useless complaining after beaten by a team who played better Cricket. I feel that SL should have played Tisara Perera ,, Also must admit Lahiru Tirimanne is a better player for Test Cricket and not for one dayers or 20/20 . These things should be considered when selecting a team to beat a Team Like SA with the Likes of AB , Amla , Kallis etc etc

  • Dummy4 on July 7, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    No Excuses For Bad Batting, Darkness Is A Natural Factor. Dilshan Is Bit Shaky When Facing Real Fast Stuff. Look At The Way He Got Out, Played And Missed So Many Which Should Have Been Despatched For Runs. I Think Mahela Should Open, He Has The Ability To Go Over The Top In The Power Plays And He Can Improvise Well. Dilshan Can Come After Sanga. Drop Thirimanne And Bring In Thisara. Get The Maximum Use Of The Power Plays. We Should Have The Big Hitters At The Power Plays. Anyway Good Luck For Rest Of The Series.

  • MAHENDRA on July 7, 2014, 3:56 GMT

    If Malinga bowls few more overs he would have taken few more wickets. That would have helped to reduce run rate and ultimately total. But need to assess Kula,s bowling now. His 120 km speed is not enough. Replace him with Suranga Lakmal.

  • David on July 7, 2014, 3:46 GMT

    Unwelcome news. No one wants to see their side win or lose in unequal conditions. Yes, dew, rain, cloud cover, etc all affect cricket, but light should not be a problem. I want to know that the Proteas won because they played better, not because SL were hampered.

    IF SLC needs to save that money, start the game earlier. Broadcasters will object to a schedule change, but will object more to loss of viewership because fans are unhappy.

    Conditions we can control must be equal for all. Players have that right. We expect their very best: how can they give their all if not provided the means. The paying audience, at home & in the stadium, paid to see a fair match. They have the right to see one.

    I looked forward to this series because I know these teams will play fair & honest cricket - unlike some others. But, how do they do so in unequal conditions? Administrators must do the jobs for which they are paid, & find ways to solve such problems, not simply ignore them!

  • Nick on July 7, 2014, 3:39 GMT

    What a ridiculous situation. A packed house of 40,000 plus at the Premadasa and two top international teams in the first match of the series forced to play in the Colombo gloom with no lights - just to save money. The spectators and players were treated with contempt. SL were well on target but, once the gloom set in, Sri Lanka were trying to win on two fronts by D/L and by scoring 305, and predictably the wickets tumbled. Playing Thirimanne at 7 is also ridiculous and Priyanjan's wild slog heralds Vithanage's chance at Pallekele on Wednesday.

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