Ashes 2013: Oval finish an absolute disgrace - Agnew

The way the fifth and final Ashes Test finished on Sunday leaves me both speechless and angry.

For the bad-light regulations to force the umpires to take the players off the field with England needing just 21 runs off 24 balls for victory, in front of a full house at The Oval, with millions watching and listening at home on the edge of their seats, is an absolute disgrace.

There are many of us who have talked to people at the International Cricket Council about this. We have told them what was likely to transpire.

I'm not trying to be clever about it - I wasn't the only one - but we knew that this was an embarrassment waiting to happen.

ICC playing regulations

3.5.3 Suspension of play for adverse conditions of ground, weather or light.

b) If at any time the umpires together agree that the conditions of ground, weather or light are so bad that there is obvious and foreseeable risk to the safety of any player or umpire, so that it would be unreasonable or dangerous for play to take place, then they shall immediately suspend play, or not allow play to commence or to restart. The decision as to whether conditions are so bad as to warrant such action is one for the umpires alone to make.

It is totally appalling that they can put regulations like this together without fully thinking through the likely consequences.

Neither is this bad-light ruling the only one. The other is the one that concerns runners. You could have a situation where a team needs 10 runs to win the Ashes, and a batsman with an injured hamstring cannot come to the crease because he is not allowed someone to run for him.

This sort of thing must never happen again - a full house, a terrific finish unfolding, and the umpires being forced to bring it all to a crashing halt. It's just not acceptable.

Having said all that, the draw was probably the right result in this match. Australia did not deserve to lose the Test.

Their captain Michael Clarke made a very generous declaration, which his side's position in the series forced him to do.

He wouldn't have wanted to set England a target of 227 from 44 overs, but he knew he had to dangle a carrot in front of Alastair Cook's men in order to have any hope of conjuring up the 10 wickets he needed after tea to salvage a win from this series.


"The rules are wrong, there was nothing wrong with the rules before where the umpires offered the light to the batsmen. The umpires are hamstrung by a bad rule. The spectators are left with an anti-climax."

Australia never looked like getting those wickets. But after a steady start under Cook and Jonathan Trott, a typically aggressive innings from Kevin Pietersen took England within sight.

We then had man-of-the-series Ian Bell and Chris Woakes steering their side to within touching distance, every run roared by the packed grandstands, the drama gripping and the atmosphere wonderful.

It was such a good day, a real bonus day considering the washout on Saturday and the state the match was in on Sunday morning.

You felt so sorry for the capacity crowd, for the England players. They'll get over it soon enough and celebrate their 3-0 series win, but these bad-light regulations must now be reviewed with immediate effect.

It's never an easy one to get right, but now they have the opportunity to nail it once and for all.

Not at any time was it dangerous out in the middle for anyone involved. So why did they come off?

Sometimes cricket can shoot itself in the foot. Put simply, cricket must be played whenever it is remotely possible. If it is not, something has gone badly wrong.

Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC chief sports writer Tom Fordyce.