Belfast Telegraph

Oval farce damaging to cricket

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

With Martin Upfold

Far from being remembered for its result, the final Test of the Ashes series will live long in the memory thanks to the farce and chaos which surrounded the close of play at the Oval.

What makes it all the more galling, however, is that it had been going so well.

Fans turning up for the final day's play had initially anticipated a match that would, in all likelihood, meander into a draw.

Instead, the experts were proved wrong and we were rewarded with an enthralling day which captured all that is great about Test cricket.

Fans were treated to run-rates of over four an over, tumbling wickets and, perhaps best of all, an imperious innings by Kevin Pietersen.

Special praise must be reserved for Michael Clarke. The Aussie's bold captaincy in setting England an immensely achievable target made for an exciting climax, and that was certainly the case at 7.36pm when the home side required only 21 more runs to win with 24 balls remaining.

Adding to the tension, Ian Bell had just run himself out. The atmosphere was electric.

Then disaster struck. The umpires, hamstrung by new ICC regulations, were forced to call an end to play due to bad light. With the floodlights on and visibility seemingly fine, the decision was met by mass derision.

The once commonsense ruling of offering the batsmen the ability to leave the field if they felt the light conditions were too poor to continue has gone. Instead, the ICC have imposed regulations which are quite clearly unfit for purpose.

Not only did it ruin the end of this particular Test (and series) but it has also, undoubtedly, damaged the all-important spirit of the game.

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