Ground, Weather and Light Guidance
In early 2016, the ECB Association of Cricket Officials (ECB ACO) published guidance to all its members on ground, weather and light in the recreational game. The aim of the guidance is to assist umpires to decide, under the MCC Laws of Cricket, if play should be allowed to start, continue or resume, solely as a consequence of weather or ground-related conditions. More information on this guidance can be seen here
There will be instances where playing conditions are dangerous or unreasonable, meaning that it will not be possible to either commence or complete a game despite everyone’s best efforts to get the game played.
It is important to remember that, while its aim is to ensure as many games as possible are completed each season, the Get the Game On campaign does not in any way override the fundamental Laws of Cricket, under which umpires alone must decide whether conditions are dangerous or unreasonable; this is in the overriding interests of player safety.
Despite the guidance issued by ECB ACO, the ECB also understands that there is a huge amount of Cricket played in which there are not qualified umpires. As a result, the ECB has produced its own summary of the guidance, which can be downloaded below:
The key things to note from this guidance is that it is just that – guidance. Ultimately, nothing can ever guarantee against injuries but both the ECB ACO guidance and the subsequent summary guidance for the whole game at least attempt to provide a checklist for people involved in running games to go through. The key is demonstrating a thorough process has been followed when deciding if play should go ahead.
Wiltshire Cricket would also make the point that the guidance document for clubs, leagues and players (link above) that there is a lot of reference to umpires, but it should be noted that under the section entitled ‘Purpose of Guidance’ that it does acknowledge that in many matches there will not be appointed umpires. In those instances, they key decision makers, i.e. captains become the important people. Therefore, for games without umpires you can almost replace ‘umpire’s with ‘captains’ throughout the document. With that in mind, it is worth us signposting you to point 2 in the guidance, namely that ‘Further, play should not start, resume or continue unless BOTH umpires agree that conditions are neither dangerous nor unreasonable’.
What this means is that captains do need to be in agreement as to whether play can continue.
The issue with the guidance above is that it could lead to an overly cautious attitude or an attitude whereby a captain deliberately errs on the side of caution in order to protect a winning position or avoid defeat. These are difficult stances to balance with the whole ‘Get the Game On’ ethos. All we hope is that captains and umpires will act with common sense and will work together to implement the guidance in the right spirit and irrespective of match situations and personal/team circumstances.