Test captains have universally rejected a proposal to play tight matches to a finish under floodlights.
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The International Cricket Council consulted teams to check if there was a will to circumvent established playing conditions and press on, even in ever worsening light, when a result is imminent.
It is a pragmatic solution which would have prevented the scenes in Abu Dhabi at the end of the first Test between England and Pakistan when play was called off with the tourists needing only another 25 runs in eight scheduled overs.
But ICC chief executive Dave Richardson has revealed Test captains across the board, such as England’s Alastair Cook, were not in favour of the idea on the grounds that it could bring “unjust” conclusions.
Cook queried the decision to abandon play at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Saturday evening, questioning whether, with the floodlights on but the desert dusk gathering, conditions were “unfair” or “unsafe” for either team.
But speaking two days later at ICC headquarters in Dubai, Richardson made clear that current protocol has been retained after relevant player consultation.
He said: “We have attempted in the past to say to the players ‘Look, if you’ve got floodlights and they’re good enough to use for Test cricket, we should just bite the bullet – and even if conditions aren’t as good as they might be normally, we should play on and just finish the day’s play or the match’.
“However, that approach wasn’t accepted by any of the teams really. So it’s a problem we’re still faced with.”
Richardson also clarified reports that the ICC had identified ‘greeny-yellow’ as the best colour for balls to be used in deteriorating visibility or for day-night Test cricket.
A pink ball is to be used in next month’s inaugural day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand in Adelaide, and it seems that is still the front-running colour – but by no means the only one.
— Pratik Nair (@PratikNair10) October 7, 2015
As for his reported suggestion that cricket’s future is ‘greeny-yellow’, Richardson said: “I was just talking about a different-coloured ball, and said ‘pink, yellow, green, whatever’ … nothing specific but more with the principle of trying to develop a different-coloured ball that you can see in day-night conditions or under floodlights – and one that lasts the pace.
“It’s something that is unfortunate – we’re trying to look for a solution, and frankly we’re not quite there.”
The ICC is preparing for initial discussions with the International Olympic Committee about cricket’s possible inclusion in future Games, and Richardson cited the aspiration to be “the world’s favourite sport”.
Spreading the word via global development, among 95 associate member nations, and continuing the fight against the blight of match-fixing remain key elements to that aim.
West Indies all-rounder Marlon Samuels has once again been reported to the International Cricket Council for a suspect bowling action.
The 34-year-old, who has previously been banned from bowling in international cricket, was cited during the Windies' first Test defeat to Sri Lanka in Galle over the weekend.
Samuels must therefore undergo testing within the next fortnight although, as per ICC regulations, he will be able to continue bowling until the results of the investigation are announced.
This is the third time Samuels' part-time off-spin has come under scrutiny.
From early 2008 to late 2011, he played as a specialist batsman only although in that time he was given a two-year suspension from cricket for "receiving money, or benefit or other reward that could bring him or the game of cricket into disrepute".
As part of the ICC's clampdown on spinners in the last couple of years, he was reported again in November 2013, along with Windies team-mate Shane Shillingford, and as a result was banned from bowling quicker deliveries.
The Abu Dhabi Test not only provided a final-day twist to an otherwise boring tale, but also packed some delightful takeaways for both Pakistan and England.
Leading the way were two batsmen who made a huge impact on the match with their marathon double centuries, Shoaib Malik and Alastair Cook.
It was as much a personal battle for both as much as it was for their teams. Cook was in a relatively better position riding on the back of a successful Ashes campaign, while Malik was unsure of his place in the team.
Malik’s return has been nothing short of magical. He was not in the original list of 15 players selected for the Test series and was added as a 16th member a week before the first Test.
There was no guarantee he would get to play his first Test in five years as Pakistan have a settled batting line-up with Shan Masood, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul Haq, Asad Shafiq, Sarfaraz Ahmed taking up the top seven spots.
However, the prolific Azhar Ali, who had not missed a Test since his debut in 2010, failed to recover from a toe injury, and Malik was thrust into the crucial No. 3 slot for the first time in his 33-Test career.
The way things worked out, it was almost as if Malik was destined to deliver. He stepped up and gave it his all and at the end of a monumental 245 he was drained so much that he had to be hospitalised to regain his energy.
It was an astounding comeback display from the 32-year-old as he had never batted for so long in his 17-year cricketing career.
Malik had been making all the right noises on and off the field before this Test by raking in the runs in limited-overs cricket and reaching out to his fans on Twitter.
The makeover probably had to do with his earlier stint with the national team when he rose to become the captain. But accusations of him being aloof, coupled with indifferent displays, led to his sacking in 2009.
He eventually lost his place in the team after featuring in the infamous 2010 Edgbaston Test that led to the expulsion of his three team-mates Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif for spot-fixing.
Finally, finally Alastair Cook is out for 263, having batted for 836 minutes. The 3rd longest innings in Test history pic.twitter.com/EhlITRAPb4
— Test Match Special (@bbctms) October 16, 2015
The second coming is a huge opportunity for Malik to reclaim his status as a quality player for Pakistan. Just like the other seniors in the side, Misbah and Younis, he brings a wealth of experience and resourcefulness to the side. More importantly, with Hafeez playing purely as a batsman owing to his bowling suspension due to illegal action, Malik’s utility as an off-spinning all-rounder is immense.
The advantage with him is that he can fit into any role and any position. He has opened in seven Tests with a decent average of 42.60 and is also an effective middle-order batsman. It will not be long before his name starts doing the rounds for the captaincy.
Misbah is already drawing up his retirement plans and if Pakistan are looking at a single captain for all formats, Malik is the perfect fit because he is also a key member of the one-day and Twenty20 teams.
As of now, Pakistan have multiple captains — Misbah for Tests, Azhar Ali in one-dayers and Shahid Afridi inTwenty20 Internationals — but if Malik continues to unleash such magnificent displays, a new order could set in, especially in a set-up where changes are made at the drop of a hat.
Like Malik, Cook’s 263 also marks a new beginning for both the captain and the team. If the Ashes campaign was an assertion of quality and ability of a young team, this trip to UAE is about consolidation.
There were question marks over whether England would able to extend their Ashes showing to the pitches in Asia that turn spiteful with every passing day.
And with memories of their last trip hanging heavy, when they lost all games of the threeTest series, it was mandatory for England to start well in Abu Dhabi this time around.
— Wasim Akram (@wasimakramlive) October 14, 2015
Cook ensured that with one of his most resolute knocks of his 120-Test career. To see your captain battle it out in the trenches to end the rival dominance can be truly inspirational, particularly for a team teeming with young talent. It will not be a surprise if a Joe Root or a Ben Stokes follow their captain in churning out a batting masterclass in the remaining two Tests.
Cook firing at the top is a huge assurance for the rest of the batsmen, as his calming presence at the other end allows them to settle in nicely. He has also evolved as captain as was evident during the Ashes and it extended to the Abu Dhabi Test.
He is constantly trying to make things happen by shuffling his bowling pack and with imaginative field placings rather than allowing the game to drift.
Cook’s assurance at the crease and at the helm marks a big turnaround after his struggles last season when he ended up losing his captaincy and place in the one-day side ahead of the World Cup. It was also a phase when he went without a century in 35 Test innings and his leadership abilities were questioned.
England, ranked No. 3, have still lot of ground to cover to regain the No. 1 spot in Tests, but Cook has taken the lead in showing his teammates that it can be achieved if they follow his example.