Flexible start times announced for England vs Pakistan test

AP – England and Pakistan will be able to make up for lost time due to bad weather in the upcoming third and final test in Southampton by starting a day’s play 30 minutes earlier.

The newly adopted flexible approach to starting times was announced yesterday, a day before the start of the test, after the second match of the series was blighted by rain and bad light and ended in an unsatisfactory draw.

Captains and coaches of both teams have agreed to the changes, with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) saying “further consideration will be given to applying these changes at future series played in England”.

England leads the series 1-0 after winning the first test in Manchester. Cricket faced accusations of being stuck in its ways during the second test at the Rose Bowl, when each day’s play was affected by inclement weather.

Play continued to begin at 11am local time, even though it could have started earlier on some days when it was not raining. The tests are being played in empty stadiums for this series because of COVID-19 restrictions, so there were no concerns about spectators getting to the venues on time.

Umpires hold umbrellas during pitch inspection after rain delayed start of the fifth day of the second cricket Test match between England and Pakistan, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England. PHOTO: AP

Speaking after the match, which petered out into a draw on the fifth day, England captain Joe Root supported the idea of starting a day’s play earlier to make up time.

“The flexible approach will enable the prospect of making up time for inclement weather during the morning session of subsequent days rather than at the end of the day,” the ECB said.

“The match officials will ensure that light is monitored to maximise playing time while it is still safe to do so. The safety of the players is still the number one priority for
this protocol.”

After the conclusion of the first day’s play, officials will meet to discuss the start time for the next day. An option to start play at 10.30am will be given and the final decision will be made by the match referee.

For a 10.30am start, 98 overs can be bowled in the day and the morning session would last two-and-a-half hours.