Michael Clarke was furious after the umpires controversially took the players off the field for bad light
Manchester, 4 August
Officials were once again at the centre of a controversy in this Ashes series when they took the players off the field for bad light on the fourth day of the third Test at Old Trafford.
Australia, 2-0 down in the five-match series and needing to win this match to stand any chance of regaining the Ashes, were 172 for seven in their second innings — a lead of 331 runs — when umpires Marais Erasmus and Tony Hill halt ed play at 4.26pm on Sunday. Subsequent rain prevented the match from resuming and thus significantly brightened England&’s chances of securing a draw ~ which would ensure they retain the urn ~ while denting Australia&’s hopes of staging a comeback. Play was officially abandoned at 5.38pm, as officials came under scrutiny once again. Australia captain Michael Clarke, 30 not out, was clearly furious at being told to go off for bad light at such a crucial juncture.
Although the floodlights were on, the umpires decided that conditions were too dangerous to continue when it looked as if fast-medium bowler Stuart Broad was about to be brought back into the attack. “We try and play as long as we can. We were able to stay out a heck of a lot longer under the lights — but when we started losing it (tracking the ball) completely from square leg, we gave the skipper (England captain Alastair Cook) the option to use spin, and he didn’t want to do that,” said New Zealand’s Hill.
Previously the umpires would ‘offer’ the light to the batsmen to see if they wanted to continue or not. But a change to the regulations in October 2010 left the issue solely in the hands of the umpires after concerns had been raised that the old system was unfair to the fielding side. England complicated Australia’s victory bid by avoiding the follow-on earlier on Sunday after resuming on 294 for seven following Kevin Pietersen’s impressive 113 on Saturday.
They needed 34 runs to make Australia bat again and the eighth wicket duo of Matt Prior (30) and Stuart Broad (32) knocked them off with a flurry of boundaries in an eighth-wicket stand of 58.
The pair then combined to remove Australia opener Chris Rogers for just 12 when fast-medium bowler Broad took the outside edge and wicketkeeper Prior, diving in front of first slip, held a good catch. David Warner was promoted to open alongside Rogers as Australia sought quick runs. The left-hander made 41 off 57 balls before he was caught in the deep by Root off seamer Tim Bresnan before Usman Khawaja (24) was out bowled. James Anderson later picked up two wickets.