The Ashes Retained

I’m back home after a few days’ enforced absence. Don’t worry – nothing too serious! As soon as I got in I nervously switched on the radio to find out the score in the 3rd Ashes Test Match at Old Trafford. To my relief that stalwart of English cricket – The Weather – had intervened in decisive fashion. “Rain stopped play” never sounded so sweet..

It was just as well, actually, because England’s batsmen were struggling along at 37 for 3 chasing a formidable total of 332 to win (or, more realistically, trying to survive all day to secure a draw).

Anyway, with England 2-0 up going into the 3rd Test, this result means that England retain the Ashes; the best Australia can hope for now is that the series of 5 Tests will end 2-2 and in such a case the side holding The Ashes keeps them.

Commiserations to the Australians, though. They batted and bowled much better in this game and without the interruptions for rain and bad light would probably have won.

So do I feel guilty that England keep the Ashes because of the rain? Not at all. Test cricket is played outside, over five days. The changing weather and condition of the pitch have always been part of the game. If Australia had won, would anyone have asked them if they felt guilty that they won the toss? By batting first they had by far the best of the pitch and the weather. Rain is part of the game and long may it remain so. Especially if it plays for England.

5 Responses to “The Ashes Retained”

  1. Brian Schmidt Says:

    Our 12th Man just brings the Drinks – yours is the weather…

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Weather cuts both ways in the long term. You can’t retain the Ashes quicker than the 3rd test.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    I think that teams should not be able to refer decisions to the 3rd umpire. If you cap the number of referrals they have, as at present, it can lead to daft decisions standing, and if you don’t cap them then the fielding captain could appeal for every ball and insist on querying it, to slow play down when it suits his team. I suggest that the 3rd umpire should have power to intercede if he sees what he thinks is an error about a batsman’s ‘life’. Every ‘Out’ decision should be reviewed as a matter of course, but also, if the 3rd umpire thinks that a batsman has wrongly not been sent back to the pavilion, he should radio the onfield umpires, who would then make a signal to inform the players and spectators that a review was taking place. Once the three umpires had reached a decision – final authority resting with that onfield umpire whose decision it is to raise the finger or not – then that umpire would give either raise the finger or make some accepted signal to denote Not Out. (This would ensure that no decision is first made public via the replay screen, which I think is inappropriate.) The 3rd umpire should have access to all relevant information – slow motion replays from various angles, snickometer, infrared cameras (‘hotspot’), and the ‘magnifying glass’ centred on the ball during slo-mo replays (which Sky had a few years ago but which I recall was discontinued after Sky was unwilling to pay its patenter what he wanted – but it was very helpful). Some of these technologies have limitations – hotspot can confirm contact but cannot rule out no touch, snicko can give a false contact if another noise happens to occur at the instant the ball passes the bat, and predictive ball trajectory software (for lbws) is more inaccurate if the ball hits the batsman very soon after bouncing off the pitch. The third umpire should simply be made aware of those limitations. Once a review is taking place, there should be no presumption that the onfield umpire’s original decision was correct; the aim should simply be to reach the correct decision. Finally, contracts between TV companies providing the technology, and the cricketing authorities behind the umpires, must be tight, because TV companies are not under duty to be non-partisan.

    And, while we are about it, play should continue under floodlights unless the umpires deem that the red ball has become too hard to see. (Pre-planned floodlit play uses a white ball.)

    • telescoper Says:

      Hotspot is most limited precisely in those situations in which it is most needed – a very slight feather of an edge. The combination of snicko with a frame-by-frame analysis of the image offers the best hope of discovering whether a sound happens at the right time and has the right properties to be a snick.

      Faint edges are very tough for umpires to decide in real time. As we have seen, it can sometimes appear so obvious that the batsman has hit it that the “benefit of the doubt” doesn’t come into it. I’ve been genuinely shocked watching replays to find my own real-time perception of what happened turning out to be totally wrong!

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Apparently an arms race is taking place and it has been suggested that players are putting silicone tape on the edges of their bats in an attempt to fool hotspot. Of course it is counterproductive if you claim that you nicked one into your pads when the bowler is appealing for LBW.

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