“Hi Adam.” G’day, Graeme Thorn. “Has there been any consultation regarding how easy the pink ball is to see for players who are red/green colourblind? I imagine that the darkness of the shiny red cherry gives them enough differentiation
which would disappear when the pink is used.”
Good question. The answer is yes, some players can’t see it safely. The best example of this was Chris Rogers, who retired the summer before it would have been a problem for him as a Test player. From memory, Gary Ballance is in a similar boat.
“Happy Birthday, Adam!” Cheers, Joe Roberts! “Not sure I’ve seen anyone address what happens with the red ball in terms of its age. Say you’re 30 overs in, light comes into play, and so you bowl 10 overs with the pink ball, then switch back to the red ball. You’ve now played 40 overs of cricket, but the red ball is only 30 overs old. When does the new ball become available? Are you now switching to a similarly aged ball, which will undoubtedly annoy the bowlers and fielders who have shined a ball to their preferences? Thanks for your company on this gloomy day.”
Yep, this is a gremlin, no doubt. When debating this on twitter a few weeks ago, where we landed on this is that the red ball taken the next morning would be a different one to that used when exchanged the night before, to reflect the overs bowled with it. Annoying for bowlers (although not necessarily, it’s often bowlers who are trying to get it changed) but so it is whenever the ball is out of shape.
Another update from Ali Martin at the ground: they have turned the lights off and the players have returned to the hotel. We are a long, long way from play.
An update from Sky at the ground. it’s still raining and dark and dreadful. I’m sorry.
“Morning Adam, checking in from Cameroon.” Great to have you with us, as always, Anna Halford. “Sadly, I am in the office, but on the other hand I have everything perfectly set up for constructive cricket-following while maintaining a convincing front of actually working: second screen with OBO, TMS overseas, and the BBC county coverage. I would normally be following Essex v. Sussex, but since it’s raining in Hove I am moonlighting with Yorkshire v. Derbyshire, with Yorks having a bit of a rocky start. Happy birthday – hopefully the weather gods will think you deserve some play as a present. Or if not you, then at least the rest of us.”
You’re set up nicely, and thanks for the best wishes. I see on Tanya Aldred’s county blog that Nick Gubbins is out of Middlesex’s Bob Willis Trophy fixture down at Canterbury because he has been in contact with somebody who has tested positive for Covid-19. Gubbins, of course, made over 250 runs in their win over Surrey.
“Afternoon, Adam.” Hello, Digvijay Yadav. “Good to have you back with us. I don’t know if you saw Bayern’s evisceration of Barcelona last night? Made up for the rain delays yesterday. Made me think whether everything being recorded and stored for posterity is a good idea after all. On the one hand, future generations can see the majesty of Messi, Federer etc., on the other they’ll also be able to see the humiliations. P.S. Really enjoy your videos with Michael Vaughan.”
Thanks for the note. I was juggling a teething baby during her witching hour as the football played out last night, but did follow Scott Murray’s MBM.
“Hi Adam.” Hello there, Trevor Tutu. “Happy birthday from wet, cold, windy Cape Town. It’s also my sister Thandi’s birthday. We managed to make her cook breakfast, and I’m not sure that was completely fair. There you are supervising the OBO, so there must be a masochistic/long suffering streak in people of 15th August.”
Happy birthday to Thandi! Who else do we share it with? Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lawrence. Princess Anne! It’s VJ Day too, of course. Well, 75 years since VJ Day.
“Bring on the pink ball,” says John Bartholomew. “No spectators to protest this time, but in normal times, the failure to deliver the amount of play in the day that has been paid for is daylight robbery – perhaps not quite the right phrase in this instance. It is particularly sad for people who have bought tickets months in advance, perhaps for just one day, perhaps with an eleven year old at their first cricket match. There really is no justification for this – a half price refund if less than 25 overs are bowled is an insult. My solution is as follows: All test match tickets are now paid for electronically – at least I assume this to be tha case. There should be an automatic pro rata refund for overs not bowled in any given day. For example a ticket costing £90, would include an automatic electronic refund of £6 if only 84 overs are bowled. This solution would also address slow over rates.”
Creative! On rates, I always find it fascinating how easily First Class teams get their overs in. I was calling Middlesex v Hampshire at Radlett last week and it was genuinely hot on each of the four days. Yet, each afternoon, both teams met their allocation of overs inside the permitted period of time. Funny that. Speaking of county cricket, we do have some play around the country. Follow it with Tanya.
“Hi Adam.” David Wall, good morning. “Didn’t Stuart Broad discuss (and ruthlessly dismiss as though it was an out-of-form batter) your idea about switching to a (suitably aged) pink ball when it gets too dark to use the red one? His point was that it would be enormously unfair on the batting side at the point of the change because the two balls can behave so differently. I’m not sure I find that such a problem, after all, teams are always affected by changes in conditions (e.g. batting early or late in the day in the sub-continent when the dew forms on the pitch very quickly and heavily, changes in cloud cover, etc). But perhaps more of a worry is you might get days, and matches, where the light changes so often that you’ve forever having to switch between the red and pink ball, perhaps as often as every 5 overs. It would become farcical.”
He might’ve, I didn’t see that. And he’s right about it being much tougher. But then again, isn’t this the entire argument against day-night Test cricket in a nutshell, that it is tougher for batsmen under lights? Thankfully, I think anyway, we moved beyond that in the space of the first 12 months or so. Much the same way that there’s an acceptance that bowling in Australia can be hellish for seamers, right? And on point two, once the ball is changed to pink, that would need to be it.
“Morning Adam.” Hello, Andrew Cosgrove. “The forecast I’ve seen is rain this morning, then a downpour at lunch, followed by more rain this afternoon. There will be plenty of time to discuss bad light all day. With regards red balls and pink balls, you said ‘but we are dealing with that via the change in ball colour’. But I think what a lot of people don’t appreciate is that it’s not just a case of the colour of the ball, it’s not possible to reproduce the dye and lacquer of the red ball in a different colour, so the pink ball is fundamentally different. They’re just not nearly as good. This is why I think changing the ball when the light is bad won’t work, and is arguably less of a working option than just swtiching permanently to the pink ball (which I think would be a bad idea too).”
My sense from talking to the players about this is that they felt that way in 2015 but not quite as much now. Basically, there’s an acceptance that the pink ball has improved and is closer to the red. But as I said at the end of my post, this isn’t a perfect fix, but if looking for a way to keep play going under lights, this’ll do that.
“Happy Birthday Adam.” Thank you, Brian Withington. “I like your pink ball substitution proposition but I’d let the batsmen decide when it was time to use it after the umpires offer the option. And we can’t let the moment pass without (once again) referencing the late great Peter Cook’s reference to the ‘pink oboe’ during the judge’s summary after the Jeremy Thorpe trial. Priceless.”
I could come at that. It’s an interesting part of the discussion around bad light that the batsmen are no longer consulted. The only real discretion seems to be when fielding teams can continue bowling provided they only use their spinners.
An unpleasant weather forecast via Guardian occasional Chris Stocks, on twitter. “BBC Weather’s Tomasz Schafernaker: ‘It’s not changing for the next few days. On the radar further drizzle is upstream heading straight for Southampton. The weather is stagnant and not moving – I’ve got no good news!’” Uh oh.
An idea in from Abhijato Sensarma. “I have seen you be an advocate for using the pink ball under bad light for at least a year now, and I think there is merit to the idea. As I’ve done in the past too, I would like to complement this by saying that a day in Test cricket should be divided into four sessions of 23 overs each instead of three sessions of 30 each. This will allow players to be more refreshed and on top of their game, especially in strenuous weather like the Indian and Australian summers. If we use the pink ball under the lights like you suggest (or even throughout the match), we would be getting more live cricket without burning out the players or kicking up frequent controversies about bad light.”
Interesting. So, we use the pink ball in the final 23 under your plan. I’d counter by saying that the objective is to play as many overs as possible with the red ball – the red ball, for mine, makes for better cricket. So, I wouldn’t be hard-and-fast about when the ball needs to change every day. Just that it could change, as required.
Perhaps my favourite rainy OBO discussion was during the World Cup last year as India and New Zealand were washed out at Trent Bridge. For reasons that I won’t bore you with, I spent the first hour posting from a gutter out the front shielding my screen from drizzle before getting into the press box, where we spent the next four hours talking about one topic and one topic only: umbrellas in the sky.
Now, I don’t want to repeat that – it was done then and done well – but I am obliged to post this email from Michael Keane, who informs me that there has been progress since the last time we talked (indeed, from today’s paper!), with the Irish on the front foot. I’ll hand over to him. And this doesn’t even require drones!
“I’ve just been reading about the world’s biggest sports air dome, built by a Slovenian company in the west of Ireland. Every summer we ask, when will we be able to play cricket in the rain? ‘We can put a man on the moon and yet…’ as his odiousness used to say. So if we’re not going to have crowds anyway, surely we can just have a big cricket super dome. Sounds like they constructed it in a week or something!” Thanks for this. For related chat, here’s that OBO from last June.
The weather is horrible. Sky just gave us a wideshot and it was very dark, raining and altogether awful. Ali tells me that Broad and Anderson have packed it in for now and have walked back to their hotel rooms. As Ian Ward put it: “yuk.”
I’ve recruited some Willie J Healey fans. Good to see. And there’s a link to cricket, I neglected to mention. Felix White, who hosts the brilliant Tailenders with Jimmy Anderson and Greg James, has WJH on his Yala! label. “I hadn’t heard of him before but when I listened I heard George Harrison,” writes Colin Hind. “I mean that as a compliment. Great song and arrangement.” Yep, his debut album was out last week and it’s quite something. Here’s another of his lovely tracks to get your teeth into.
“Thanks for the video link,” adds Damien Clarke. “I’m liking that. May I suggest a suitable one for anyone getting jittery about the prospect of limited play today?” Nice one. I’ll pop it on.
“Morning from the playground in Didsbury @collinsadam, where I’m sure you’d be if you weren’t putting a shift in today.” All ahead of me, Guy Hornsby! “How ironic that it’s glorious in Manchester this weekend. I’d say this Test could be s draw but with these attacks, anything feels possible, eh. Oh cricket.” Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Let’s open the inbox. Alisdair Macdonald Gould is off the mark first, saying nice things. Thank you. “How many candles?” 36 of them. The best gift was a card from baby Winnie (six months yesterday, blimey) with her footprints in paint.
“Birthday greetings, Adam.” Thank you, Spencer Robinson. “I’m on day 13 of a two-week hotel quarantine in Penang. I’m awaiting a beautiful sunset … and keeping everything crossed for some fascinating cricket to get me through these final few hours of what has been a seemingly interminable lockdown.”
I really hope we can give you that. The forecast isn’t that bad – I promise. Then again, it wasn’t that bad either yesterday. Light will again be our main challenge.
I shouldn’t be that surprised that some people have taken great offence at me describing the 15th of August as the opening day of last year’s Ashes Test. Yes, I know the 14th was a washout – I was there. Chill out. The first day was, therefore, day two. Not too difficult to comprehend an otherwise pleasant reflection, was it?
Peter Haining has done me a good turn here, finding the mighty overseas TMS link before I have to google it myself! You’re a good egg – thank you. Here it is.
An updated pic form the ground, and another update from Ali Martin now that he’s in the ground at Southampton. “Right, am now set up in the A̶d̶v̶a̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶H̶a̶i̶r̶ ̶S̶t̶u̶d̶i̶o̶ Shane Warne Stand and can confirm that yes, both bad light and mizzle mean we’re probably better off spending the morning watching yesterday’s warm and fuzzy video of Younis and Yasir on loop.”
Bad light (always) stops play. Okay, I know it doesn’t, but it certainly has felt that way at times in this truncated Test summer. Jimmy Anderson was talking to the press last night and was fairly grumpy about how it all played out yesterday.
Let me put to you a solution I’ve been tossing around for a couple of years. I preface this by saying that I know the OBO can be a tough crowd when it comes to fairly radical reform. But hear me out, in the spirit of trying to find a better way.
Now, we know that Test cricket can be played under floodlights. We’ve done it plenty of times since November 2015 during the first day-night match. We have a pink ball (a couple of them) that does the trick in a safe enough fashion.
But is it desirable to play with a pink ball all the time? I would argue, no. The best Test cricket is with a red ball in the daylight. By best, I mean when the ball behaves in a way that gives us the contests that we crave. There’s no need to ditch the red.
However. And it’s a big however. Why not both? Why not use the red ball all day long until the point where the assessment has been made that it is too dangerous to continue? And let’s not debate that point, by the way: I trust fielders at point and square let who tell us how hard a dark ball is to pick up under floodlights.
I digress. What do we do when the red ball is no longer safe? Well, change it up. For the overs that remain between then and the close, give the fielding team a choice of pink balls of comparable age. Maybe they use it for four overs, perhaps 14. Whatever it takes to get those overs in. Then the next day, back to the red.
This isn’t completely perfect and, of course, it would mean a trickier time for batsmen having to adjust in the very final stanza of the day. But isn’t cricket always about adjusting to changing conditions? Sure, we don’t want safety to be one of them, but we are dealing with that via the change in ball colour, albeit briefly.
How have I gone? Drop me a line. Let’s have a constructive chat while it rains.
“I’m two miles from the ground and I have my windscreen wipers on.” The words of our man, Ali Martin, who called to relay the likelihood that it’s going to be another one of those mornings. Sorry. But it doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. You can do so by emailing or tweeting. Or find me on AOL or ICQ or MSN Messenger. Is Friendster still a thing? Will you find my own journal entries on MySpace?
Speaking of our team of Guardian cricket writers, while we wait for play, you might enjoy an interview on Geoff Lemon and my Final Word podcast that we’ve re-booted for the weekend: our long discussion with Vic Marks in 2017. We sat down with him at his Perth hotel a few hours after Australia had retained the Ashes. But this chat wasn’t about that Test, rather, his lovely lifelong journey in the game.
Welcome to the third day of this second Test between England and Pakistan. The tourists are set to resume at 223/9 after just 40.2 overs were possible yesterday; not many more than the day before – we’ve essentially lost a day. But not to worry, this pitch is gives the impression that it will spit and seam (and probably spin) throughout, so there should be more than enough time to get a result by Monday.
The most interesting portion of the morning session is bound to be the interrogation Mohammad Abbas gives the England’s openers. On the evidence of what we’ve seen, it’s hard to imagine a surface better suited his classy brand medium pace. Rory Burns and Dom Sibley will need to bat exceptionally.
For my part, I can’t help but think of this day twelve months ago. Then, it was the first morning of the Lord’s Ashes Test, a stunning day played in front of a packed house. I know, because it was my birthday and I was steering the good ship OBO through the first half of it. Despite the fact that the weather is grim and the crowds are non-existent, it’s lovely to be with you again for this iteration of August 15!
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