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Flexible start times allowed for third Test at Southampton
Change in Regulations

Flexible start times allowed for third Test at Southampton

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced that the third and final Test between England and Pakistan will have the option of starting play half an hour before the scheduled opening time if needed.

This decision comes in the aftermath of the drawn Test at Southampton, which was blighted by bad light and rain delays forcing a total of 134.3 overs across the five days.

The flexible approach adopted by the authorities is intended to accommodate for any overs lost to unpleasant weather conditions.

Under the previous regulations, any extra time was added to the end of the day, though this provision has been continued to be rendered futile due to unfavourable light. The final decision to start proceedings rests with ICC Match Referee Chris Broad.

"The ECB and the ICC have agreed to revised start times ahead of the #raisethebat third Test starting on Friday at the Ageas Bowl," the ECB stated in a media release.

"The flexible approach will enable the prospect of making up time for inclement weather during the morning session of subsequent days rather than at the end of the day."

The match officials had been heavily criticised for their conduct in the second game where bad light halted play for a significant period of time despite floodlights switched on in the stadium.

Their rigid interpretation of the rules will once again be the center of attention as they will be entrusted with the duties of keeping an eye on the natural light.

"The match officials will ensure that light is monitored to maximise playing time while it is still safe to do so," the statement further added.

"The safety of the players is still the number one priority for this protocol."

"The revised start times have been agreed with the captains and coaches of both England and Pakistan and will be implemented for the final match of this series."

The change in start times is something that has been advocated by England captain Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood and could be extended to future series in the country.

The additional time incorporated in the upcoming fixture in the event of rain or bad light interruption may favour Pakistan as the visitors are in search of a series-levelling victory with England currently holding an unassailable 1-0 lead.