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India vs Australia | Umpires Stick to Protocol as “Bad Light” Debate Sparks off Yet Again

The decision of halting the match due to bad light received a fair amount of criticism from the cricket fraternity. The Sydney Cricket Ground is equipped with eight world-class light towers and with those switched on and providing artificial light, the situation triggered off a debate about the usage of floodlights in Test cricket.

Hardik Worah |Cricketnext |January 6, 2019, 3:20 PM IST
India vs Australia | Umpires Stick to Protocol as “Bad Light” Debate Sparks off Yet Again

Just 25.2 overs of action was possible due to persistent rain and bad light on the penultimate day of the fourth and final Test between Australia and India in Sydney. While the first session was washed out, it was because of poor light that not a single delivery was bowled in the final two hours.

The decision of halting the match due to bad light received a fair amount of criticism from the cricket fraternity. The Sydney Cricket Ground is equipped with eight world-class light towers and with those switched on and providing artificial light, the situation triggered off a debate about the usage of floodlights in Test cricket.

"The umpires taking the players off for bad light when the lights are burning bright is ridiculous. Cricket is too precious. Communication can solve this. With all the advancements of other sports, this infuriates viewers and loses eyeballs. It is a crazy situation," tweeted an Australian-born commentator Mike Haysman.

"Just 25.2 overs today. I know there is a protocol to be followed with light metres, and umpires are bound by that, but test cricket needs as much play as possible. Think you must play till as late as possible," tweeted Harsha Bhogle, echoing Haysman sentiments.

As per the rule books, Law 3.7 states: "If in the opinion of the umpires, natural light is deteriorating to an unfit level, they shall authorize the ground authorities to use the available artificial lighting so that the match can continue in acceptable conditions. The lights are only to be used to enable a full day’s play to be completed as provided in clause 16."

However, it is well established that it becomes extremely difficult to sight a red ball under floodlights. The lights were being used at full force but it only got darker and darker in Sydney as the clock kept ticking. On-field umpires Richard Kettleborough and Ian Gould, and third umpire Marais Erasmus stuck with protocol and called off the day's play, much to the disappointment of the crowd and of course, the Indian team that is pushing for a win.

The laws regarding stoppage of play due to bad light are quite rigid. In 2010, the umpires were given the right to suspend play if they considered the conditions to be either dangerous or unreasonable. They use a light meter which displays the reading that indicates the current light conditions. Prior to that, Umpires used to ask the batsmen and then take a call depending on what they had to say.

Law 3.5.3 states: "If at any time the umpires together agree that the conditions of ground, weather or light are so bad that there is obvious and foreseeable risk to the safety of any player or umpire, so that it would be unreasonable or dangerous for play to take place, then they shall immediately suspend play, or not allow play to commence or to restart. The decision as to whether conditions are so bad as to warrant such action is one for the umpires alone to make.”

India are currently leading the series 2-1 and can make it 3-1 if the weather and light of course, permits on day five. However, the debate over the bad light protocol is sure to be reignited following what occurred in Sydney on Sunday.

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