MUMBAI: With rain, or even the threat of it, perennially lurking in England, any cricket played in that part of the world has constantly remained under threat of being washed away. The same happened to the first Test between India and England at the Trent Bridge when the game – poised for a result on Day Five – could not continue beyond a point after heavy rains lashed the Bridge and play had to be called off.
However, those present at the venue on Day Five have a perspective on this. Soon after heavy showers in the evening forced the Test abandonment, the rain gradually ceased and disappeared, play-time could have been available. Those present in Nottingham insist “there needs to be a serious debate on this, if the Test could’ve been completed on Day five”.

Here’s a timeline:
* At 3 pm (UK time), the covers were brought on and it was heavily grey out there.
* However, 20 mins later, the rain stopped, and it got slightly brighter.
* Ten mins later, it began showering again.
* At around 3.45 pm, the umpires walked out in heavy rain to talk to the ground-staff and play was called off.
* However, that, unfortunately ended up being the last cloud-burst after which rain had halted and play could’ve continued another two hours.

Neither England nor India are complaining here but those who were tracking these developments say, “the golden rule in cricket is still the same – whenever possible, play should happen”. Was there such a possibility? “Yes, it did appear later in the evening that two or a bit more hours of play could’ve been available. They (match officials) should’ve pushed for a result as far as possible. The ECB boasts of some of the best ground equipment in world cricket”.
These are risks that have to be taken in a country like England where perennially inclement weather and horribly unpredictable conditions have historically harmed Test cricket.

India were batting at 52 for the loss of one wicket with Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease and 157 runs were needed for a result in India’s favour. Likewise, The English seamers, James Anderson once again in particular, began looking extremely dangerous and the ball rose from deceptive lengths to a height that could’ve made the Indians flinch. The game was poised for a ‘perfect finish’.
Technically, given India’s scoring rate at 3.71 runs per over against the new ball, another 30 to 35 overs would’ve seen the game heading towards a result. Could the match-officials, including the field-umpires, pushed the groundsmen to accelerate their on-field efforts?
“Another 35 overs could’ve taken around two-and-half hours. The thing is, a Test match getting drowned on the last day, especially when so wonderfully poised is a total heart-breaker. It’s not about which team is winning. It’s about the result. That’s what Test cricket needs,” say those who aren’t convinced that enough was done to see if play could’ve been available.
Here’s where the debate on not having neutral umpires for an international game is coming into question again. From the field umpires to the TV umpire as well as the match referee, they were all Englishmen. “A neutral umpire would’ve seen things differently, possibly put more pressure on the groundsmen to get things done faster. The cricket boards and the ICC need to take a hard look at these things because these split-second decisions eventually always convey the big picture about where the game is heading,” say those tracking these developments.

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