Cricket Expert & Columnist
The Ashes: bad light decision that ended day four 'was premature'
Nasser Hussain says the umpires' decision to take the players off at Old Trafford was premature.
Last Updated: 05/08/13 9:57am
The tourists, who need to win the game to prevent England retaining the Ashes, had reached 172-7 in their second innings - a lead of 331 runs - when umpires Tony Hill and Marais Erasmus took the players from the field. Read our day four report here.
The officials told Sky Cricket that the quality of the light kept "dropping, dropping, dropping" and that England captain Alastair Cook declined to bowl spin when asked, adding: "That pushed our hand because it's a safety issue."
However Clarke, who was 30no at the time, was clearly upset by the decision and Hussain said that he could understand why given both the position of the match and the advice that the International Cricket Council has given to umpires on the matter of bad light.
"In the last year or two the ICC have had a word with the umpires to say wherever possible try to stay on," said former England skipper Hussain. "I always think in situations like this that a little common sense from the umpires goes a long way.
"I thought Michael Clarke might not declare because of the light. The umpires might have a little quiet word to Clarke and say 'listen, we are going to stay on now but if England have to bat against two new balls in this light, we think that is unreasonable. We don't think it is unreasonable for you because you are seeing it fine and want to keep on batting; we don't think it is unreasonable for the fielding side because it's not, it's fine; but if England have to go out in this light that is unreasonable'.
"Then they could have stayed on and Michael Clarke would have had to make a decision. But it was taken out of his hands and that was why he was angry.
"Are we not just overcomplicating it a little bit? The word in the regulation is 'unreasonable'. Was anything that was going on out there at that time 'unreasonable'? Were we all sitting up here saying 'gee, whizz - it's unreasonable for them to be playing?' No.
"I can't remember a guy getting hit in the field because he can't see the ball; it's not that bad out there. I don't see where the safety issue for fielders comes into it at all at the moment."
Hussain's fellow Sky Cricket pundit Mike Atherton acknowledged that the umpires had found themselves in an unenviable position but suggested that perhaps they should've placed a greater emphasis on how the batsmen were seeing the ball when it came to making their decision.
"The umpires played it according to the regulations," he said. "Tony Hill said [they made the decision to come off] when they stopped tracking the ball at square leg.
"But Tony Hill is 62 and his eyes won't be as good as those of Michael Clarke, who is a professional sportsman at 32 years of age. So what is difficult for a 60-year-old umpire is not going to be the same for a 30-year-old player.
"The umpires are in a very difficult situation because we heard Marais say that England's fielders were rabbiting in his ear, saying 'how about the light? Is it going to be fit for us to bat? Can we go off?'
"Depending on the game situation you've always got one side that is pressurising you. Then you've got the knowledge that you've got 25,000 people in here who have paid a minimum of £60 per head who want to see the maximum amount of cricket and we've got floodlights that have been installed.
"The regulations have been changed in recent years so we do play more now than we did but we can probably do a little bit more still."
Watch the fifth and final day of the third Ashes Test from Old Trafford live on Sky Sports Ashes from 10am on Monday as well as the Ashes Events Centre, available online and on iPad, via the Sky Sports App.