Zak Crawley warns players risk life-changing injuries if they play in poor light
England batsman Zak Crawley warned players risk “life-changing” injuries if they are forced to play on in failing light.
The second Test at the Ageas Bowl has been marred by the weather, with just 86 overs possible over the first two days and the third abandoned without a ball bowled on Saturday.
Pakistan remain on 223 for nine in the first innings of the match after persistently gloomy overhead conditions and intermittent drizzle kept the sides off the field until the inevitable decision was made at 5.15pm.
Had there been a paying crowd in attendance umpires Richard Kettleborough and Michael Gough would have expected an ear-bashing from the stands for their reluctance to get things moving and, while they were spared that trial, there was still plenty of disappointment and debate among fans and pundits.
Many believe that there should be greater willingness to play through bad light but Crawley stepped up to put forward the opposite view.
The 22-year-old revealed he lost sight of the ball while fielding late on day two and would have been reluctant to face down a Pakistan attack including two bowlers capable of hitting 90mph, Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah.
“You always want the game moving forward, especially when you’d like a bat, but I was at deep square when a couple of balls got hit out there and I didn’t see them at all really,” he said.
“It’s a difficult one: if someone cops one on the head because they didn’t see the ball in the field or a batsman cops one on the arm and misses the rest of the series, that’s life-changing differences in their career or their lives.
“It hasn’t happened in this game yet but who’s to say if we come out and it’s dark someone doesn’t break their arm or get hit in the head by a cricket ball? It’s the umpire’s responsibility to look after the players.
“As a fielder I was frustrated to come off, you want to keep going, but walking off I was thinking ‘I’d want to take the light if I was batting’. You have to look at it from both sides and probably the right decision was made. It was pretty dark.”
The idea of using pink balls when artificial light takes over has been mooted, with former England captain Michael Vaughan offering cautious support for the idea, and Crawley appeared receptive to some creative thinking on the issue.
“I’m one who’s argued (the other side) watching T20s when I was younger and they’ve come off when it’s drizzling,” he admitted.
“You know it’s an entertainment business and we’re playing for the fans back home. I’ve been guilty of that, but when you’re standing there facing it all you want to do is go off. It is an entertainment business so maybe there’s a way to work around it and give the fans what they want.”
Crawley has more reason than most to resent the loss of time in the middle, having only just returned to the team after missing the last two Tests.
He was sacrificed for an extra bowler when injury left Ben Stokes unable to take his share of the seam duties but returned this week with the vice-captain absent for family reasons.
Crawley has no axe to grind about being stood down but is eager to help himself to a first Test century soon to make it a harder decision next time.
“With Ben not being able to bowl, it was to do with the balance of the side. There’s no complaints from me,” he said.
“We won both games so it proved to be the right decision. Now I’d love to score enough runs so my position in the side becomes more stable. I probably need some runs in the next few games to cement it a bit more.
“I massively want to score a hundred for England. I pinch myself thinking about scoring a hundred in my room at night. I think about it all the time. No doubt, the first one is probably the hardest to get so I’m very much looking forward to the day I hopefully can get one but there’s a lot of hard work yet.”
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