Rest day

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Rest day

Rest day is a traditional rest day in multi-day test cricket matches. In the old days, the game usually started on Thursday: the day was not chosen by chance since it was assumed that more spectators would be able to attend the game on the third day since the workers had a day off on Saturday. Given that Sunday is a holy day for Christians of all faiths, it was Sunday that was reserved for rest. And although this tradition was alien to many British colonies, they quickly adopted it, like other rules of cricket.

Many cricketers considered Rest day optional, but they were forced to put up with the established format. Edward Arthur Thomson, who took part in the Jazz-hat games in the 30s of the last century, said:

“Some of us were just shy to walk openly with our bags on the streets. We got used to leaving them in the locker room at the train station in an inconspicuous place and waited until it got dark to go home.” 

In the future, the issue of revising the format of test matches was raised repeatedly. Society was becoming more and more secular, unshakable traditions were becoming a thing of the past, and financial considerations were coming to the fore. However, it was not possible to solve the problem immediately. Some players, including Jack Hobbs and Peter Harvey, refused to play on Sundays for religious reasons. Others (for example, Alan Gibson) were outraged that the absence of a Rest day would damage centuries-old English traditions since Sunday, among other things, was the day when the whole family gathered at the dinner table after going to church.

The third and most significant obstacle was the law. Spectators were forbidden to pay for attending sports competitions on Sundays, which hit the organizers’ pockets. And if the authorities were ready to turn a blind eye at least to unofficial and amateur matches, then both the church and the selectors strongly opposed such a practice. So, in 1969, Tom Graveney visited Luton to take part in a charity match. Having earned 1000 pounds, he actually lost his international career, which he later regretted a lot.

However, a year earlier, it was announced that Sunday cricket competitions would be held with free admission for spectators. And in 1980, the John Player Sunday League attracted more than 250 thousand viewers – 135 thousand more than the matches held on weekdays. Thus, the cancellation of the Rest day was only a matter of time.

In the end, even hard-core conservatives like Alan Gibson gave up (the latter even started covering Sunday’s County Championship matches). Supporters of the changes reminded that Rest day did not always fall on a Sunday – for example, in the English test match against India in 1952, it fell on the second day in connection with the declaration of mourning for George VI. In addition, the players still almost did not comply with religious regulations: some devoted Sunday to playing golf, others went fishing. John Emburey recalled how the England players went to the winery during the Rest day in Adelaide, where they “had a little too much”.

The first test match in which Sunday became a game day was held at Trent Bridge in 1981. The new format’s success was so obvious that it was soon decided to abandon the Rest day (the last of them fell on the 1997 Wimbledon tennis final). The last Rest days in the countries with the test status took place:

  • Sri Lanka – December 2001, a match against Zimbabwe;
  • West Indies – March 1997, a match against India;
  • England – July 1996, match against India;
  • Australia – November 1995, match against Pakistan;
  • Zimbabwe – February 1995, a match against Pakistan;
  • India – February 1994, a match against Sri Lanka;
  • Pakistan – December 1993, a match against Zimbabwe;
  • New Zealand – February 1988, a match against England;
  • South Africa – March 1970, a match against Australia.

It is worth noting that in test matches, the possibility of declaring a Rest day is still allowed. However, as a rule, the organizers resort to it extremely rare to save the audience.

This is interesting: many observers noted that the actual cancellation of the Rest day affected the players’ physical fitness. In particular, Scyld Berry stated: “Players, especially fast bowlers, faced a deterioration in form, which they were not ready for. Now they need to put more effort into training, and this is natural, but now no one is removed from the game because of fatigue.”

Nisha Bhavani
Author: Nisha Bhavani Position: Cricket Expert

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