Australia’s captain Michael Clarke was far from alone in fuming as the umpires made the unilateral decision to take the teams off for bad light with the tourists leading by 331 runs on the fourth evening of the Old Trafford Test. To widespread incredulity around the ground and the world, Tony Hill and Marais Erasmus judged conditions to be unsafe for play, maintaining the officials’ unedifyingly scene-stealing role in this series.
Speaking to the host broadcasters, Hill and Erasmus stated that they had deemed conditions unsafe, even though Australia had been motoring along at close to six runs per over. They also revealed they had asked Cook to bowl spin, a request England’s captain understandably refused given the series scenario. Clarke remonstrated at length when asked to depart, but under current ICC regulations had no say in the matter.
A series of cameos by Chris Rogers, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson and Steve Smith had kept Australia’s runs ticking over, though a wicket fell every time they threatened to go from a canter to a charge. Watson’s absence at the top of the order reflected his lack of batting confidence in the first innings, but also allowed Warner the chance to make a decent contribution to the match after his brief and less than illustrious visit to the middle on the second day.