World T20 2014 March 23, 2014

'You don't mess with lightning' - Lumb


For the third time at a World T20, England have found their chances hampered by the weather and a Duckworth-Lewis defeat.

In 2009, at The Oval, it ended their tournament but when England lost a rain-affected game against West Indies the following year and then saw their second group game washed out, they quickly towelled themselves down and went on to win the trophy.

Michael Lumb was a part of that side - in fact, he made his T20 debut in the opening match in Guyana - and he has particular knowledge of the other elemental force that interrupted England's game against New Zealand on Saturday. Lightning flashes lit up the ground before the arrival of rain but the umpires decided to keep the players on the field until the required five overs had been bowled for a positive result.

Stuart Broad, England's captain, was critical of that decision, claiming the safety of players and spectators had been put at risk. He will face disciplinary action from the ICC for his comments but Lumb reiterated England's view that they had been put in a potentially dangerous situation.

"I grew up in Jo'burg, so I'm a bit scared of lightning, so I wasn't too happy about it," Lumb said. "I've played in games, especially at school and stuff, where we've gone off for lightning. So it is something you grow up knowing you don't really mess around with. So you know, it's one of those things. We can't control it, but it is pretty scary.

"When I was at school, the girls school went on a camp, and five of them died. A tree got hit and they were camping under the tree. They got hit. At my primary school the tennis courts got hit, everyone on the field got knocked out, their shoes got burnt, the top of their heads got burned. At the local Bryanston Country Club, a father and son walking back from the driving range, it wasn't even raining, they got hit. They died. It's a regular thing over there. You just don't play with it. It's dangerous, it takes lives."

Last year, in Johannesburg, two schoolboy cricketers were hospitalised after being struck by lightning during a practice session and it can also be a problem in parts of the subcontinent - in November, lightning led to a break in play during a ODI between Sri Lanka and New Zealand on the grounds of safety. According to the ICC it is the umpire's sole jurisdiction to decide when play is suspended due to adverse conditions but Lumb cited the example of golf, where some courses have lightning warning systems installed.

"I don't know the rules and regs, but from a safety point of view, you should have been off the field," Lumb said. "It was a dangerous place to be. That's the long and the short of it. You wouldn't be out there on a golf course. It's the reason they have those sirens, because it's dangerous. If this was a golf course, we wouldn't have been on the course. The siren would have gone off and we would have been sat in the clubhouse.

"I was at deep square leg, I heard the rumble. I thought it was an aeroplane at first. Then the rumble got closer, and I thought 'oh, that's thunder'. Then there were a couple of flashes, and it got really close."

Although the weather swept in almost without warning - New Zealand had been told there was a 2% chance of rain during the interval - Brendon McCullum came to the middle in the fourth over and swiftly sized up the situation. He hit the last ball of the fifth over, bowled by Broad, for six to put New Zealand ahead on D/L. "When he came out he obviously had a clear intent to get ahead of Duckworth-Lewis," Lumb said.

England's sense of grievance was perhaps increased by the fact their total, the highest made in eight T20 internationals at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, looked a defendable one. Moeen Ali's 36 was the top score and his second-wicket stand of 72 in 7.2 overs with Lumb the highlight of the innings; but instead of a chance to secure a confidence-building victory, they are behind the eight ball again. It is beginning to seem like they have been snookered for most of the winter.

"It happens when things aren't going your way, the rub of the green is against you," Lumb said. "But when things are going good you kind of get on a roll and away you go. If you look back to 2010 we lost the first one and almost lost to Ireland and went on and won it. So it's not a huge setback, it's only one game. We're doing the right things, and when the rub changes we'll be on the crest of the wave and we'll ride it all the way."

Another veteran of the 2010 campaign has been called up by England. Craig Kieswetter will fly to Bangladesh to replace Luke Wright. Lumb and Kieswetter provided the gunpowder at the top of the order as England won a first global limited-overs trophy but the latter was discarded after two frustrating years following the 2012 competition. But rather than another sign of regression, Lumb thinks England could yet replicate their surprise success in the Caribbean, D/L problems notwithstanding - a different kind of lightning striking twice.

"We're definitely on an upward curve. Twenty20's a funny one to gauge and to sense, but if you looked at a graph I think we are on the way up. I think we've got a lot of challenges with spin and wicket and conditions, but as a whole we are improving."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on March 24, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    Dropping KP was the worst thunder and lightning I can think of for ENG! The whole team made a mess, Cook couldn't get bat to ball and KP is axed for ever!

  • Tom on March 24, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    Posted by dorking18 on (March 23, 2014, 17:52 GMT) What about the ground staff - do the players/match officials tell the ground staff not to put the covers on in a lightning storm because it is too dangerous?

    That's another reason to take the players off while the lightning is a little way off rather than wait until the rain actually arrives. In this case there probably was an argument on safety grounds for not covering the pitch immediately.

    Irrespective of the result, the umpires screwed up.

  • Edwin on March 24, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    Whilst I can sympathize with Broad, McCallum showed his superior tactical nous - all Broad had to do was slow the game down in the 5th over, whether by changing his field, talking to the umpires, etc until the rain came, and the game would have been declared a draw........

  • Brijesh on March 24, 2014, 2:39 GMT

    The point of statistics is to predict a 'reasonable' final score in case of unfinished matches. The DL method uses data from the same match until the interruption, and extrapolates this based on the current score and no of wickets lost. The thing with statistics is - 'You need an infinite data-set to make a completely accurate result' - (Meaning you need the game to finish). But the beauty in it is - this result converges if enough data is available. The ICC must review the structure of the DL-methodology. Make it more data-dependent, include history, pattern and momentum of scoring, T20 stats of batsmen yet to come (Eg: Dhoni at 7 can definitely score more runs than Ronchi on the subcontinent). In the context of a T20, 5 overs is simply not enough data. In my opinion, even 10 overs is not enough. Considering the volatility of a T20I, it is ridiculous that the ICC still uses the DL for T20s and after only 5 overs at that. Eng are certainly right in considering themselves unlucky.

  • Ben on March 23, 2014, 20:34 GMT

    It is usually the losing team that has a problem with the D/L. I agree there are pain-points in the method. But then there is no better method to throw that one out. Having said that, umpires can make mistakes but this one was entirely up to the umpires. They wouldn't be standing there to get struck by lightning. As for being penalized, well, don't mess with the umpires...

  • thusin on March 23, 2014, 19:45 GMT

    There should be more OPEN DEBATE about the umpiring standard, clearly. Why is there no DRS or any review system at all ? This is a INTERNATIONAL WORLD CUP ,and there is no review at all ? And the Umpiring decision can not be questioned by anyone ? After such a pathetic and out-of-the Blue decision as such happened on this day, how can any cricket fan/Cricketer not question the Umpiring ? There should be open TMO (Rugger..) kind of a officiating system , where everyone hears the Umpiring conversation and can see the DRS.

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    Lightning is pretty dangerous. Players should be taken off immediately, but I don't know what the protocol is in this tournament.

    Of course Broad and McCullum would both change their opinion if the situation was reversed. But I fail to see how you can continue playing once Brendon had to pull away from a shot because of the lightning and thunder! You come straight off until the danger has passed - so no result.

    But hey, what does Michael Lumb know about the danger of lightning? He only grew up with it, and obviously has some very sad memories from his childhood about people who lost their lives from lightning strikes.

    FWIW, I think even though England set a good total (best on that particular stadium), NZ would probably have won it with a few balls to spare. Just a shame it ended like this.

    On a brighter note, fantastic to see Pakistan's awesome performance with the bat and ball against Australia. That's why I never miss any of their games!

  • JIGNESH on March 23, 2014, 19:14 GMT

    @ CricketingStargazer, well, in 20 overs format, DL method takes place after 5 overs is appropriate. Haven't England ever benefited by DL method before in Cricket? Then why whining after this match? And there are lightnings these days in many parts of the world. If Broad and Lumb are scared of the lightning, they should stay home. Broad and Lumb should stay home or shouldn't play a cricket on any ground because there is also little possibilities of plane/helicopter crashing or meteor falling on the ground.

  • Will on March 23, 2014, 18:16 GMT

    To suggest this is about which team you follow is to seriously miss the point. To 'completely understand' but to still have 'doubt' is incomprehensible.

    The point is, the umpires put the players at risk. The umpires can be said to have contrived a game by staying on for a few minutes more. So the umpires should be ready for criticism.

    This could be solved by simply recognising that the D/L method has no place in T20 cricket.

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2014, 18:13 GMT

    An abandoned game with 1 point apiece would have been a fairer result. As it was New Zealand had the advantage of seeing the storm approach and anticipating that they just needed to slog the next few balls to ensure victory at the 5-over cut-off. That really boils the match down to just a few balls, which is hardly just.

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