The on-field umpires have come in for criticism for their decision to delay the fifth Ashes Test match due to what was described as rain “you can hardly feel”.
The first day of the final Test between Australia and England was a gripping one which swung drastically between both sides. England won the toss and bowled first, reducing Australia to 12-3, but a counter-punch from Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head, totalling 71 runs in 86 balls, gave the hosts back some momentum.
Though Labuschagne fell in comical fashion, Head carried on to his second ton of the series, and he and Cameron Green (74) threatened to take the game away from England, before two quick wickets brought the tourists back into contention. However, while the end of day score of 241-6 might look standard, more than a third of the scheduled overs were lost to inclement weather, with the match officials deciding to halt the contest shortly after tea.
This decision was criticised, with pictures taken at the ground showing the crowd without umbrellas, and the amount of precipitation minimal.
“This is how bad the ‘rain’ is,” tweeted The Cricketer’s George Dobell. “Pathetic. You can hardly feel it. Might as well just punch spectators in the face and have done with it.”
“You know, sometimes I’m not sure Test cricket deserves to survive,” he continued. “The match officials – genuinely the only people at the ground using an umbrella – are bringing the game into disrepute here. We’re fools to put up with it.”
You know, sometimes I'm not sure Test cricket deserves to survive. The match officials – genuinely the only people at the ground using an umbrella – are bringing the game into disrepute here. We're fools to put up with it. https://t.co/QZFxaN9J21
— George Dobell (@GeorgeDobell1) January 14, 2022
The Sun’s John Etheridge was also perplexed. “They have stopped play in Hobart for no apparent reason,” he tweeted. “It is not raining and yet the bloody fourth umpire is in the middle with his umbrella up – why do fourth umpires always do that?”
They have stopped play in Hobart for no apparent reason. It is not raining and yet the bloody fourth umpire is in the middle with his umbrella up – why do fourth umpires always do that?
— John Etheridge (@JohnSunCricket) January 14, 2022
Former Australia quick Dirk Nannes was another to criticise the match officials. “Another example of cricket shooting itself in the foot,” he tweeted. “The game should not be off for this drizzle, if we can even call it that. The gutters are still dry. It could be the first rain delay when not a single drop of water goes down the gutters.”
Anthony Sharwood, a pro weather writer for Weatherzone, pointed out the weather stations both in the city at Hobart and at the airport had recorded no rainfall. “45 minutes after Ashes play stopped due to the world’s lightest drizzle in Hobart, the weather stations at the city and the airport have both received a total of 0.0 mm of rain,” he tweeted.
45 minutes after #Ashes play stopped due to the world's lightest drizzle in Hobart, the weather stations at the city and the airport have both received a total of 0.0 mm of rain https://t.co/f7e1Lut847 https://t.co/rAn6iH69Y7
— Anthony Sharwood ❄️ (@antsharwood) January 14, 2022
Play will begin 30 minutes earlier on subsequent delays to make up for lost time.