England pray for dry day

Rain dominated the second day of the fourth Test between England and India at Old Trafford

Rain dominated the second day of the fourth Test between England and India at Old Trafford

First published in National Sport News © by

England hope the outfield dries and they can press home their advantage on the third day of the fourth Investec Test against India at Emirates Old Trafford.

The hosts were reasserting their supremacy after an indifferent morning when heavy rain, and its after-effects, saw play ended prematurely on Friday.

Joe Root and Jos Buttler had put on an unbeaten 67, lifting England to 237 for six and a healthy lead of 85, when the players were taken off at 2.15pm in Manchester.

Light rain soon became a deluge, flooding most uncovered areas of the field.

It relented at around 4pm and although it drained well in most areas, a large patch in front of the ground's new players' pavilion and dressing room at the Brian Statham End did not clear.

Groundstaff on motorised super-soppers tried in vain to dry out the area but it remained muddy and umpires Marais Erasmus and Rod Tucker abandoned play at 5.40pm.

The situation was embarrassing for host club Lancashire, who have overseen a £32million refit of the venue in recent years to safeguard its international status.

Lancashire director of cricket Mike Watkinson apologised and explained that additional construction work over the winter had meant that end needed to be relaid earlier this year.

He also conceded that the work of the groundstaff, which created the mud, was probably counter-productive.

Watkinson said: "We apologise if people feel let down, but these are extreme circumstances.

"It was an extremely heavy downpour and most grounds would have struggled.

"We have an area that has some new grass, some turf that is not quite as established as the rest of the field.

"The drainage is fine, but it was used for some construction work during the off-season. The pitch drains to this side, there is a natural fall. This is where the water congregates.

"If we have got anything wrong, it's hitting it with the waterhog and disturbing the surface. Ideally, it would drain through naturally."

The issue occurred just a week after a similar downpour forced Lancashire's T20 Blast quarter-final against Glamorgan into a reserve day and some pundits were demanding answers.

Former England batsman Geoff Boycott told BBC Test Special: "This sort of thing hurts cricket.

"The evening is set, we could easily play on. Did the groundstaff know about this? If so, they should have covered it or brought the boundary in."

In terms of the match situation, Root (48 not out) and Buttler (22no) led a sensible recovery from 170 for six after the loss of three early wickets.

Batsman Ian Bell, dismissed for 58, said: "It is poised very nicely. Hopefully we can get past 150 lead, which would put us in a nice position.

"We've got two good young guys there who can move this game forward for us."

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