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Ashes rocked by 'ridiculous' scenes as umpire's actions anger cricket world

Joel Wilson drew the ire of cricket fans and commentators on the fourth day of the fourth Ashes Test.

Joel Wilson and Ben Stokes, pictured here in the Ashes.
Joel Wilson kept his dark glasses on despite telling Ben Stokes it was too dark to bowl the pacemen in the fourth Ashes Test. Image: Getty

The fourth Ashes Test was engulfed by some bizarre drama on Saturday when umpire Joel Wilson drew criticism for wearing his sunglasses after telling England they couldn't use their fast bowlers. Just 30 overs were bowled on the fourth day due to some atrocious weather, and when play finally got underway the umpires ruled that England couldn't use their pacemen due to poor light.

Mark Wood and Jimmy Anderson opened the day's play with the ball, but the umpires later asked Ben Stokes to use his spin bowlers because the lack of light was too dangerous. England were therefore forced to use Moeen Ali and Joe Root for the remainder of the day's play, much to the displeasure of Stokes.

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The England captain could be seen in an animated discussion with the umpires over the decision, clearly unimpressed that he couldn't employ his biggest weapons. To make matters worse, Wilson continued to wear his dark sunglasses despite the poor light - a fact that left many cricket fans fuming.

Media personality Piers Morgan tweeted: "Can someone please explain why it’s so dark England aren’t allowed to bowl our quicks.. but umpire Joel Wilson is still wearing very dark sunglasses?" Former England players Michael Atherton and Mark Butcher also pointed out the farcical detail in commentary, with Butcher declaring Wilson “must have the light intensifiers on."

Root's spin proved the downfall of Marnus Labuschagne, but not before the Aussie batter scored a brilliant 111 to take Australia closer to safety. Labuschagne and Mitch Marsh (31 not out at stumps) combined for a 103-run partnership as the Aussies finished the day at 5-214 and 61 runs away from making England bat again. The tourists only need a draw at Old Trafford and will be hoping rain plays a factor again on day five.

Ben Stokes, pictured here fuming at the umpires.
Ben Stokes was fuming at the umpires. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images) (PA Images via Getty Images)

“It sometimes so hard to judge … batting with a red ball under artificial light is so hard,” Labuschagne said at stumps in regard to facing the fast bowlers in poor light. “It’s not a call for the players, we just handle it from there.

“We were so close to having a tremendous day there. We only needed 60 more to be within England’s first-innings total. The wicket feels alright, the ball change seems to have more swing and that’ll be a challenge in the morning, if we get play tomorrow. For us, this is about saving this Test match and retaining the Ashes.”

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England batting coach Marcus Trescothick said: “We all thought [the light] was manageable. We didn’t think it deteriorated a great bit and looked like we could bowl seamers.

“But that’s their call. They will have a different view, and that was the end of it.”

Trescothick also warned Australia against relying on the weather to save them. "It's a natural thing to say. When you're trying to save the game and there's an opportunity of rain, everyone's going to say the same things," the former Test opening batter said.

But he warned: "It can be a little bit dangerous. If you start looking for other ways than internally in your team to stop games happening, or to not lose a game, potentially it becomes a dangerous point. At the end of the day you have to go out and earn that victory whatever way it is."

with AAP

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