There have been some bizarre reasons for play to be stopped or called off in cricket – rain, snow, streakers, dogs, cats, squirrels, and now there is the sun. Yes you read it right – SUN! That was the case in the first ODI between India and New Zealand at McLean Park in Napier when the setting Sun meant batsmen were finding it difficult to spot the ball. Play eventually got underway after a half an hour delay.
Indian captain Virat Kohli, whose side’s eight-wicket demolition said he has never experienced a sun-induced stoppage in his life. “Never in my life,” he said when asked about the halt due to which the target was revised by two runs and the match shortened by an over. “It was funny. In 2014, I got out once with the sun in my eyes and this rule wasn’t there then,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
The incident happened at the conclusion of the 10th over when Lockie Ferguson’s delivery outside the leg stump to Shikhar Dhawan was adjudged to be wide but had done enough to bring the two umpires together. After a quick chat, the umpires decided the sun was right in the eyeline of the batsman and took the players off the field.
Usually the pitches in cricket grounds are positioned in a North-South direction to avoid such a scenario, but at McLean Park, the pitch is facing East-West. This meant the sun could creep into the batsmen’s eyes to create issues.
Umpire Shaun Haig explained the situation at the break. “The setting sun is directly in the eyes of the batsmen. So we got to consider the safety of the players, umpires. So we have decided to suspend play until conditions improve.”
That is a first for me. Game called off because the setting sun is in the batsman’s eyes! Surely pitches have to be laid north-south!!
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 23, 2019
Even the Sun can now stop play , but I know nothing stops the @SunRisers .
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) January 23, 2019
Bad light has stopped play, light in the batsman’s eyes stops play, and yes, there is always a first… for everything #NZvsIND
— subramani badrinath (@s_badrinath) January 23, 2019
Sun has stopped play ! Heard this for the first time ever . Waah Kudrat
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) January 23, 2019
“This is the first time in my 14 years I have seen something like this happen on a cricket field. Good news is we have 30 minutes extra time. We are hoping to be back in 30 minutes and it will still be a 50-over game,” explained umpire Shaun Haig.
Bill Dalton, Mayor of Napier, spoke about the absurd disruption and said, “We are working through with a plan to sort this issue. We are absolutely committed to make this the biggest multi-use sports ground in New Zealand. After the problem we had with the moisture few years back, I had to speak a lot to the press than waiting before a match.”
“Really pleased with the council as this is a huge project worth $5 million and they’ve been excellent. The project deals with relaying the surfaces in such a way to deal with multiple sports like cricket and rugby apart from also using the venue for circus purposes. It’s great to see how a sport can lift a community,” he added.
At the time of the odd disruption, India stood at 44/1 off 10 overs with Dhawan on 29 runs from 32 balls and Virat Kohli on 2 runs from 4 balls. Rohit Sharma was dismissed on the second ball after the dinner break to Doug Bracewell. Meanwhile, Dhawan brought up his 5000 ODI runs during the knock. India eventually chased down the revised 157 run target with 8 wickets to spare.