What a load of no balls …Colombo test Day 3

Another overnight set of storms did nothing to delay the start or the condition of the ground for Day 3 of the test.

England resumed on 3/0 which became 4/1 with Jennings back in the cool of the Pavilion before the pensioners brigade of the Barmies had reached the end of the first verse of their tune-like rendition of Jerusalem. Bairstow emerged mid-second verse. Burns followed shorty afterwards to have England 20/2 and needing a Yorkshire rescue! Both wickets fell to Perara.

One thing hasn’t changed overnight is the over rate – we’ve had eight overs in 45 minutes; three of which were from the quick bowler but it seems there’s no urgency in this heat.

Drinks are called after 11 overs in the hour and England succumbing in the heat to 42/4…and no Yorkshire rescue as Root and Bairstow are back in the hutch. And all this before the first ice cream of the day!

The lead is 138 and the general consensus is that 250 should be enough particularly as the pitch is either doing something unexpectedly in this session and late yesterday but nothing is obvious from afar or the batting has deteriorated badly. It could be dead rubber syndrome by both sides who want an extra day off?

The torture by spin continues… (sounds better in that voice on The Apprentice).

Lunch sees England reach 110/4 Stokes 32no, Buttler 37no. Stokes has been out twice but both were reviewed by the 3rd umpire for no balls by Sandakan. He had been bowling no balls throughout this match and has not been called until these reviews. One trusts by accident.

Although there was one obvious one earlier on which was called…the first of the match and even the series. This whole topic brings the role of the umpire into question. In olden times, the umpire would have a quiet word with the bowler and tell him to adjust his run, before calling him. The bowler could also do the same as Stokes asked yesterday and was given the guidance.

So…what are umpires for? To count to six…yes, judge run outs, lbws, catches, stumpings…probably not. The prophecy of Dickie Harold Bird seems to have come true. Umpires are not needed? They don’t even encourage the speed of the game. That session managed 24 overs in the end – 13 in the second hour and nowhere near the 30 they should be achieving.

One solution to over rates is to insist on 30 per session and delay the interval accordingly but to start the next on time. If it means players and officials have less time for lunch and tea, then so be it. I reckon they’d only do this once before hunger set in!

Deciding who’s at fault is academic as everyone is in the business of entertaining the paying public…so get on with it! i feel like shouting ‘get on with it, I’ve got a plane to catch in four days time’ but I’m too much of a gentleman to do so…although others in the tour group have thought otherwise for sometime.

The pressure is now on the on field umpires to call the no balls. Admittedly they did have a word with the SL captain as they left the field for lunch but let’s see. For one thing the crowd is now on their case!

The lead is 206 and the good news is that the blue Wonder ice creams are back in stock and our tour leader is happy (as well as most of the other seven dwarves too!).

One pleasing aspect of being in a tour group is knowing that others are doing what you’re doing…namely raiding the hotel breakfast buffet of portable food for lunch or emptying the free minibar of its contents for sharing amongst the group. Team spirit prevails.

Drinks 168/5 off 43 overs Buttler 64 and Ali 21. Stokes departing for 42 on his third time ‘out’. Lead 264. This little session went well as the contest reaches the halfway stage in terms of time. I think I’ll have a chunk of tomorrow and all day Tuesday to fill!

Tea and 210/7 Foakes 20 and Rashid 21 as the lead extends beyond 300 and probably SL. The session yields 31 overs so it can be done but we haven’t seen any fast bowling for hours! There are 35 overs left in the day but I suspect we shall not see them all as clouds build and then retreat. The crowd has built during the afternoon as more local people come along and adds to the atmosphere. Forecast for the ideal scenario would be for England take three SL wickets before the close but its a funny old game…we shall see.

England fold eventually for 230 on the stroke of 4pm leaving SL 22 overs this afternoon (nominal) and a target of 327 to win the match with over two days still to play. Foakes made 36 – the third highest score on the card – he has shown his worth in this tour leaving England with a delicious problem. The most exciting thing towards the end of the innings was the collapse – accidentally and then deliberately- of one of the sight panels not in use in this match. Brought some amusement to the crowd.

Am not quite sure what the last few overs showed as runs dried up and review after review was taken. The quality of the umpiring here has not been great but at least it’s consistently poor. Ok…it’s not an easy job in any circumstances and in the extreme heat it just gets worse. These umpires are not as experienced as others on the panel but they have to learn somewhere, sometime etc.

Within minutes of the start of the SL innings the light starts to fade and the massed ranks of the ground staff appear as if they know something is going to happen and when. They’re 10 minutes later than yesterday. Playing in the knowledge that the light is going to fade makes a mockery of the number of overs etc. Within seconds, the wind had started to gush and it’s getting darker and darker.

But then within seconds, the sun breaks through, the clouds still assemble and the approaching rainbow suggests that rain is imminent. Meanwhile, SL lose their first wicket at 15 and second at 24. The latter on review. The umpires are having a shocker!

The number of reviews being overturned today must be approaching a dozen as SL lose their third wicket at 34 having had the review two balls before overturned. Thunder rumbles in bright sun light and the rainbows pot of gold gets nearer and nearer. SL must be hoping for lots of bad weather.

SL end the day at 55/4 with a night watchman in place. The end of the day seemed quite arbitrary as the clock hadn’t clicked round to 5.30pm for the additional time allowed to complete the 90 overs. Six were left unbowed it seems and with three lost at the change of innings, even with hardly any fast bowlers on show, professional cricketers can’t meet the standard advertised. So, can I have a refund please?

Ok…the cricket was exciting, both sides played well in their own way but one worries about SL. There’s no heart or determination seen in their batting and to be outspun by England in their own backyard is concerning. Nonetheless England have momentum; and you can’t detract from that.

And missing clear no balls on a continuous basis as well as the other umpiring howlers is another concern for others too!

One thought on “What a load of no balls …Colombo test Day 3

  1. I agree with you saying about umpires not calling no-balls. Apart From this test how often do you see umpires call no-balls? As a club umpire and in their defence I will say they are required for the spirit of cricket E.g. Penalty runs.


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