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Permanent daylight

Should there be permanent floodlights at all Test grounds in England?

Bad light has always been the bane of both players and spectators, and with ticket pricing going up by the series (I understand a single Ashes ticket at one ground next year could cost £103 just for a seat), is it now time to bring in permanent floodlighting so that spectators get better value for money?

Here at Lord's today rain has not fallen, yet play has been suspended three times before the official tea break.

It annoys spectators and it's frustrating for players as there is no continuity to the day's play. Batsmen have to get their eye in again, and bowlers have to find their rhythm.

As I write, ten minutes after going off... They are coming on again.


  • Comment number 1.

    'Should there be permanent floodlights at all Test grounds in England?'

    Of course there should - in these days of diminishing Test crowds in other countries(NZ earlier this year is a prime example), the public needs to be assured that, after paying out mortgage-size amounts for tickets, the only reason they would be deprived of play would be for rain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Interesting to see an ex-player calling for floodlights. As I understood it the main issue was that floodlights didn't really help with the red ball but clearly Alec would know more than me.

    The other problem would be for grounds in residential areas as planning permission is so often an issue. Lords is only getting temporary permission, and the Oval can only get temporary lights a couple of times a year. Will this mean some of our older ground lose test match status to newer facilities away from people's homes (Riverside, Rose Bowl, etc.)

  • Comment number 3.

    It's an interesting point, because Essex are playing Kent at the moment and I bet it's only because the floodlights are on. (They are due to finish under lights anyway tonight).

    That said, I don't think we will see Tests confined to Chelmsford, Derby and Hove in the future just because they have floodlights. (And usually play is stopped because of rain rather than bad light).

    It's more an issue in May and September, when arguably we shouldn't really be playing international cricket.

  • Comment number 4.

    Without a doubt. If it's puring with rain, the punters can understand the players going off, but for bad light, it's just so frustrating. Imagine paying £60-100 to watch a football match and seeing only half of the play because the lights didn't work.

    The technology is there, the crowds soon won't be, so if the ICC want to hold on to the importance of test cricket, there needs to be a rule in place that allows floodlit matches. Perhaps the ICC should also think about a minimum standard for test grounds in the same way that FIFA has for international football matches- floodlights could be one of the criteria.

  • Comment number 5.

    If floodlights do nothing but increase the amount of light, then that's fine. If it alters the game in some way, though, I would hesitate. While I welcome the arrival of other forms of the game, such as 20twenty, the more variations there are of cricket, the more important it becomes to let Test cricket stand unchanged as the purist form of the game. Bad light has always been a part of cricket, and it influences the game in ways other than simply stopping it. Therefore to lose it, however, annying it is, is to lose an aspect of the game which adds to its fascination. Take away all the aspects like that, and you have baseball. So I say, let's keep bad light, and with it the true fascination of test cricket, and all the interesting discussions had in the TMS box when play is suspended.

  • Comment number 6.

    The game is now changing and the administrators must lead this change.

    If Test cricket doesn't become more accessible and maintain its 'value for money' selling point (a ticket for Twickenham is £60 for 80 minutes, in contrast to around £50 for a day at the Test), then it will struggle in future. The players want to play, the fans want to see cricket, and nobody wants to see ageing ex-pros reliving their glory years while there's no coverage....!

  • Comment number 7.

    Interesting debate but who decides when to turn the lights on? Does there have to be agreement? Of course there would - so what happens if one side decides they do not want the lights on?.

    On a grey day like today if there were light then they would have to have been on all day, but with the advances in technology there have been surely this could have been considered. There are mobile floodlight systems available - as it would be a great expense for some County sides to have to install floodlights... and lets not forget the need for planning permission - the disturbance to neighbours etc for something which is going to be used only a few times per year...

    As for the comments on the sense of playing in May - well my club have been playing cricket since April preparing for the season which started last week and will not finish until the first week of September.

    I dont think there is a simple answer to this question.


  • Comment number 8.

    Bigtim - I appreciate your traditionalism but there really is nothing romantic nor entertaining nor interesting about a problem which can be solved.
    People pay an absolute fortune to look at an empty field. They won't bother for much longer and that will be the end of Test Cricket and we'll be left with the fast food cricket of 20/20. Perish the thought.

  • Comment number 9.

    I so agree about value for money.

    I earn a decent wage but with price rises etc I simply cannot afford to go and watch test cricket.

    If test grounds want to see packed grounds - then the pricing needs to be seriously looked at and the money made from concessions etc rather than from gate money or for there to be less corporate hospitality which take up a lot of seats but more drinking takes place than watching of the game.

    Surely cricket clubs should be able to book tickets at a discount to fill grounds up with cricket supporters.


  • Comment number 10.

    Only a game as arrogant and hidebound as cricket would overlook the obvious expedient of having lights at test grounds. This is the reason test cricket is dying on its feet in comparison to Twenty20 - the concept of giving value for money and providing sporting entertainment seems to take second place to honouring traditions born in the 19th century - we don't use oil lamps anymore, can't cricket move on as well?

  • Comment number 11.

    I wonder how many people remember Geoff Boycott batting? and taking hours, days even to get to a centuary!!!... now those days were boring...

    I have been a scorer for over 30 years and believe me there is nothing so boring as watching the rain come down and waiting until there isn't sufficient time to get a match in...

    So if we are talking floodlights here - why not go the whole hog and talk about grounds with removeable roofs for that matter!!!...


  • Comment number 12.

    On a mildly gloomy day, might it not be enough to illuminate the sight screens? At least the frustration of the crowd would be removed, where they feel they can see fine but the umpires call bad light.

    For telly watchers of course the magic of the cameras would continue to fool them into thinking the light is good enough when it's dreadful. Then the floodlights would definitely make a difference.

  • Comment number 13.

    Noffers - I know you're right really. And if I ever had time to go and watch a test match I'd of course be very disappointed to lose any play to bad light.

    But I watched a few games of baseball on Channel 5 last year when working nights. It was certainly entertaining, and I would happily watch again. But it was, as you brilliantly say, fast food. 20twenty is similarly fast food - masses of immediate satisfaction, but very little substance to keep the palate interested beyond the end of the meal.

    So this is the dilemma. In a world where people like me, who want to see test cricket unchanged, but realise that if we get our wish we will see it disappear altogether, what do we argue for?

    Well, for me, although I realise change has to come, and is better than losing the game altogether, I put forward the rusty old traditionalist view just to make sure the ECB know that for some of us paying £100 to sit and look at a dark and empty Edgbaston is still better than a day in the office, and still feels like part of cricket. Who knows where the tug of war would end up if there wasn't one or two of us on the end of the rope trying to pull you all back to the nineteenth century?

    After all I can still get the poetry of unlit cricket at New Road, as long as the Severn isn't feeling too frisky........

    Long live TMS and it's blog...

  • Comment number 14.

    When technology is available and is obviously useful it should be considered very seriously. If floodlights at Test grounds in England haven't already been discussed by ECB, MCC and TCCB, one has to ask WHY NOT!!
    1. There is a lot of money swilling around the cricket authorities from mega sell-out contracts to SKY and sponsorship, so provision of superb lighting at all Test Match grounds should not be a problem.
    2. Spectators pay for action. If they had a rebate for say, any day when less than 40 overs had been bowled, it might concentrate minds!
    3. Regarding fairness to both sides:
    a. the rules regarding floodlights would be understood by both sides BEFORE any match.
    b. artificial lighting (when needed) would be a part of the game , in the same way as light drizzle, burning sunshine, sand for run-ups, dodgy umpiring, flat pitches,fines for slow-over rates ..........the same for both sides; all part of the rich tapestry of what we love to watch - without unnecessary interruption!

  • Comment number 15.

    Personally I do not think that tedious delays add to the charm or fascination of the game. Everything said about ticket prices is true.

    On the contrary, it is the fact that teams often play as much against the conditions as against the opposition that makes cricket unique. For this reason arguments that floodlights could make the game unfair do not stand. Floodlights would simply be another aspect of "the conditions" which players must negotiate.

    One problem has been that cricket floodlights are too weak. But surely the game can get some decent floodlights just like every other sport. They would need to be powerful enough to prevent matches from degenerating in to absurdity.

    Also, I thought I heard that this MCC committee has considered day-night tests! I have my reservations about this, but surely if this option is considered then floodlights for bad light would be less radical!?

  • Comment number 16.

    i think it causes a problem with the red balls, or maybe white shirts. thats what they were talking about on sky sports anyway. i think the solution lies with a rethink of the rules regarding bad light.

  • Comment number 17.

    by the way kriswith, very interesting point.

  • Comment number 18.

    The fact is that Test Matches woulden't be played at night time, lights would just be used to make days like today completely playable. The only problem is that all grounds would need them, however I am 101% behind that. It should be done immediatly, people today have seen no great cricket, but will still have had "their moneys worth".

  • Comment number 19.

    I think you are putting the paying supporters point of view, thanks Alec, which must be heard.

    All test grounds should have flood lights, and there has got to be more of a default position for umpires of playing, unless there is a good reason not to.

    Currently play is being suspended to much and too early, and for too long, in my opinion.

  • Comment number 20.

    ClarenceSquare and scepticthinktank make a very good point about floodloights just becoming part of the game. I have to confess I am probably beginning to be swayed by that argument. At the moment as the light is failing, we hear Aggers draw in breath and wonder how long it will be before play stops, but with floodlights, the discussion in the box will turn to the strategic implications of turning on the lights and we will learn new nuances of the game we haven't yet even considered. Who knows - the effect of artificial light could make reverse swing or spin more noticable at an earlier stage in the delivery, and so encourage a change in bowling. Or a batsman may nee to take a more defensive strategy if he finds his form is different under artificial lighting.

    The more I think about it, the more I'm finding that I'm in agreement. Test cricket will still parallel chess for the requirement for strategic thinking, AND there will be more of it. How could I have been so blinkered?

  • Comment number 21.

    PS a bad day at Edgbaston is still far far better than a good day at the office....

  • Comment number 22.

    Well it does have to be said that conditions can often make Tests very unfair. Lights could just add to that.

    I think they need to give some kind of advantage to the away side in terms of the toss.

  • Comment number 23.

    Question - trent bridge has got new permanent floodlights as part of its massive extension due to be ready for the Test Match in a few weeks ... would they be able to be used in that game, if conditions were similar?

  • Comment number 24.

    Floodlights - Nonsense.
    All that will mean is more cricket !!
    With more cricket we'll get less banter from the TMS team.
    I say that if we have floodlights, we must turn them off for 20 minutes every hour so that Blowers can have a special guest drop by the box.
    All this commercialization can be bad for the game. - Next we'll have TV Time-outs, rolling subs, and cheerleaders... Oh, well we have cheerleaders already. Will they have to adjust their make-up if they're performing under lights ?

  • Comment number 25.

    In this day and age, there can be little argument against the use of floodlights, s long as they are of sufficient quality. Surely they will turn the lights on in advance, as they do in midwinter football matches, so that the transition from natural to artificial light is less marked. Players will learn to adjust.

    The comparison between pyjama-thrash cricket and baseball is appropriate, but not simple and straightforward. Baseball is as much a contest between bat and ball as cricket is, and has subtleties and techniques all of its own. A batter has to change his technique between blazing sunlight and floodlights (often on the same day), and also they play baseball in the rain.

  • Comment number 26.

    Rain is different, the pitch can get dmaged and the ball absorb water, swell and become unusable.

    The natural conditions can adversally affect one team more than another, but as there is no control over them they are not deemed unfair. Floodlights however have human control so could be demed fair.

    As has previously been said the problem with test floodlights is a mixture of them being less effective or problematic with the red ball/whites, and also many test grounds would have trouble getting planning permission.

  • Comment number 27.

    If memory serves, there are two issues with planning for floodlights. Some previous planning applications may have been granted with conditions relating to hours of use, which wouldn't be a problem when we're talking about using lights so play can continue. The other problem has often been with the erection of the pylons and light escaping into the neighbourhood, but modern stadium lighting can often improve this a lot. After all, we don't particularly want clumps of very bright lights that might cause problems for fielders, so a ring of lower lights around a ground might be better for the game and more likely to get planning approval.

  • Comment number 28.

    Of course we should use floodlights it would be the same for both teams! But we also need to alter the players mindset too> It was interesting to hear Ryan Sidebottem say" New Zealand came of often so why not us" scholl boyish or what? The paying customer should come first>

  • Comment number 29.

    test cricket is silly and outdated. its very obvious that nobody is being tested in this silly 'purist' sport. if a bowler like Kumble can score a test match century then surely it cant be that hard for a top-order batsmen. and Kumble has got the worst technique and style of any batsmen in this era.

    it is time anyway for lights to be installed in all test-sissy cricket grounds. there is nothing worse than spending so much money to watch the rain fall. cricket must evolve to make it as a major sport, mabye even the olympics. for that to happen, we must change and evolve. we are not in the 1940's anymore and there is nothing 'gentleman' about cricket anymore.

    it does seem odd that only British and Australians are the proponents of test cricket nowadays, apart from idiots like Sambit Bhal(Cricinfo). it is obvious that the British do not want to accept change since they fear losing their jobs to people in the sub-continent.

  • Comment number 30.

    Having been at the Test yesterday I consider myself very lucky to have seen 100 uninterupted overs.

    But it seems to me crazy in this day and age for spectators to miss out on play becasue of bad light.

    I know there are some that consider it unfair becasue the red ball under ligths may not be quite as easy to see as under natural light but surely it's better than the murky conditions players often play under before being offered the light?

    If it did give one side a slight advantage, then surely that's just the nuance of cricket - after all it can cloud over during the day and become very bowler firendly or vice versa - that's cricket.

    But I do think that given that the lights technology exists, it is criminal for them not to be available for Test matches.

  • Comment number 31.

    testmatchforwho, I really don't think you have any idea what you are talking about. Have you ever actually been to a Test match? There is no pleasure quite like that of bagging your seat, chatting to the others around you, opening up your picnic, going to the bar every few overs and, most significantly, spending a day watching high-quality cricket that has far more strategy and variation than pretty much any other sport in the world. As for the comment about the English and the Aussies being the only remaining stalwarts of the test game, that is utter rubbish. I am in South Africa currently and there is far more interest in test cricket here than in the one day or 20Twenty forms of the game. And a single glance at the atmosphere at a Carribbean test disproves your argument entirely. Certainly, those whose introduction to cricket has been through nothing more than T20 or at the most one day cricket then the concept of a 5-day match that may well end up with neither side winning may seem 'dull', but this can be what makes the game so exciting - I have little doubt that you won't be aware of the 2005 Oval Ashes test, when England needed to rescue a draw in order to be able to win the Ashes, and the English contingent in the crowd all put up umbrellas and put on their raincoats in order to jokingly suggest that the players should go off, whilst the Aussies all put on their sunglasses and took their shirts off in response. You don't get that kind of banter in a T20 game. Whilst I am a fan of the other forms of the game, Test cricket is - and will remain so - the best form of cricket by far, which is clear by the fact that for a cricketer a Test cap is far more sought-after than an ODI cap.


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