'It's ridiculous': Shane Warne hits out amid cricket 'disgrace'
Shane Warne has added his voice to calls for urgent change after England and Pakistan played the shortest Test in England - in terms of balls bowled - for 33 years.
A weather-interrupted second Test at the Rose Bowl ended in a predictable draw on Monday, with just 134.3 overs bowled across the five days.
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England were 4-110 in reply to Pakistan’s first innings 236 when Joe Root declared to hasten the end of a match ahead of what would have been the statutory last hour.
Root’s move ended the shortest Test in England, in terms of balls bowled, since a rain-affected draw between England and Pakistan at Lord’s in 1987.
While there is an understanding that rain can delay play, many pundits were scathing about the repeated stoppages for bad light at a ground where the floodlights were in use.
Warne called on the ICC to introduce a pink ball for all Tests, while also slamming the “ridiculous” time constraints that Test cricket abides by.
“Remember the other day when play started and we only played for an hour then the players all had to go off for lunch for 40 minutes,” he said in commentary for Sky Sports.
“I think one of the biggest things that could be changed is the timings, so that we don’t always have to have the lunch break around that right time. Why can’t when we’ve been sitting around all morning for a start and we come out at 12.30, why not take lunch at 3 o’clock?
“When the conditions are right, I think we should be maximising the time of play, I think it’s ridiculous these short little breaks, you’ve been waiting around all day, all morning and then you only go out there for an hour then you’re off for 40 minutes again.
“I think that’s one of the biggest changes that should be made the conditions and the laws.”
Cricket greats call for urgent Test changes
The whole of Saturday’s third day was washed out, while play was abandoned at tea on day four despite blazing sunshine on Sunday afternoon.
“At the end of day three when we’d had very little rain, after a week of record temperatures and suddenly we’d only played 86 overs of cricket and that is just not good enough,” former England captain Nasser Hussain said.
“We’ve all played so much cricket, we all occasionally opened our curtains up and thought ’thank god it’s raining, we can put our feet up all day’. We were all offered the light at 5 o’clock and we exhausted and what was the first thing we did? We’ll take the light.
“We can’t do that any more. These are unusual times. Everyone has been in quarantine. Countries have flown over and sacrificed a lot to go into quarantine. People have gone into bubbles for weeks. Jack Leach has been in a bubble for weeks without playing cricket.
“And when you have the opportunity to play, and the world is watching, do everything you can do to stay on and not have the old mindset of doing everything you can to go off. It is time we changed our mindset as a sport.”
Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis suggested greater flexibility from match officials was the best way of maximising playing time.
“I feel unless light gets really bad, we can stay out there a bit longer,” said Waqar.
“But I'm generally in favour of changing as little in Test cricket as possible. It’s the oldest and most traditional format.
“What we need to be careful of is which kind of cricket ball is used.
“I don't yet know how a Dukes pink ball is going to behave in this country. If conditions are overcast and the lights are on, maybe it'll do too much. It can work, but we'd need further trials in England.”
Root, although sympathetic to the position on-field umpires Richard Kettleborough and Michael Gough found themselves in at the Ageas Bowl, said changes must be made “somewhere, somehow”.
On Sunday, fans and pundits were left gobsmacked that play had been abandoned before ‘glorious’ conditions arrived for the evening session.
“Called Off for the day at 350pm as the sun shines, no urgency to get water off the covers, Not one groundstaff member has walked outside to check the outfield, but they say it will take 3 hrs,” Michael Vaughan tweeted.
John Etheridge of The Sun was also fuming at the apparent lack of urgency from officials.
“Called off for the day in Southampton. They say it could take three hours to dry. How do they know? NOT A SINGLE PERSON HAS BEEN OUT TO THE MIDDLE,” he tweeted.
“Don't think there's a single pundit/commentator/journo etc who doesn't think the lack of urgency and intent in this Test has been appalling.”
Called Off for the day at 350pm as the sun shines ... no urgency to get water off the covers ... Not one groundstaff member has walked outside to check the outfield ... but they say it will take 3 hrs ... !!! Nearly time for a beer ... #Bonkers #OnOn
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) August 16, 2020
Called off for the day in Southampton. They say it could take three hours to dry. How do they know? NOT A SINGLE PERSON HAS BEEN OUT TO THE MIDDLE.
— John Etheridge (@JohnSunCricket) August 16, 2020
Don't think there's a single pundit/commentator/journo etc who doesn't think the lack of urgency and intent in this Test has been appalling. https://t.co/BMHWyZZkiw
— John Etheridge (@JohnSunCricket) August 16, 2020
Absolutely ridiculous and disgrace to game of cricket! These even are not just test matches ' these are world championship matches 🏆 At last even a single point will matter and then these draws' bad lights and rain would be only thing to curse 😑#EnglandvsPakistan#ENGvPAK
— Muhammad Talha (@mtalha2897) August 16, 2020
Glorious here now. Couldn’t make it up etc pic.twitter.com/JoHmqeevpY
— Lawrence Booth (@the_topspin) August 16, 2020
To be fair the shadows from the floodlights are quite strong out there pic.twitter.com/ArzefIBd9M
— Dean Wilson (@CricketMirror) August 16, 2020