Cricket: Day/night test cricket a pink blow to the heart

Kane Williamson of NZL v West Indies; shots like this may disappear with the pink ball (photo: WICB Media/Randy Brooks)
Kane Williamson of NZL v West Indies; shots like this may disappear with the pink ball (photo: WICB Media/Randy Brooks)

As the traditional form of the game, test cricket is not something that can – or should – be radically altered.

Now, though, that scene has the potential to change.  Australia and New Zealand are set to play the inaugural day/night test match late next year, and the “cherry” in the bowlers hand is going to be…pink?

Not surprisingly, players have already expressed concern at a) the behaviour the pink ball will exhibit and b) what that will do to affect the results.

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland admitted that despite last year’s pink ball Sheffield Shield trials yielding some good results, a pink ball will never match a red ball when it comes to natural wear and performance.

“What we learnt from that last year is that there are no really obvious reasons why we shouldn’t be continuing to progress with our intent around day-night Test match.”

“The pink ball, just like the white ball, doesn’t behave exactly the same as the red ball. But … the ball is the same for both teams.”

Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) CEO Paul Marsh echoed the sentiments of Australian players, saying that the pink ball would slow the game down.

“The general feedback was that it went soft very quickly, the ball didn’t swing, it didn’t seam, it didn’t reverse swing. So it became a ball that was very difficult to get batsmen out with, but it was also difficult to score runs because it got soft quickly.”

On top of the on-field concerns, there is the crowd as well.  Viability is key for this situation if the supporting governing bodies want to make this a long-term prospect for test cricket.  Unfortunately, there seem to be far too many flaws in the design to push it further without hitting large obstacles.

When Australia and New Zealand play the potential first test match under lights, it will not be in one of the “big cities”.  It is certainly a smart move to take it out to somewhere such as Adelaide or Hobart, but once again CA and the ICC are going to hit a wall.

The test concept is meant to cater for more fans who perhaps cannot head to the ground during the day – business people and school children (dependent on the fixturing) two good examples.

Cricket is going to change to keep with the modern times, but shifting the usual timeslot of a test-match from the morning to essentially a mid-afternoon starts changes the atmosphere, regardless of the stadium.

Australian opener Chris Rogers is decidedly against the push for pink ball test cricket, due to his colour-blindness.

I have always known I am colour blind,’’ Rogers said.

‘It’s something you have to adapt to as you go along, but there’s no pink-ball cricket for me, that’s for sure.

“I would never play with a pink ball again. I played one game and didn’t see the ball at all so it was a bit pointless.

Talks of other international sides coming on board to support this have been either quiet or non-existent, leaving Australia and New Zealand to make history once again.

The two sides played the first Twenty20 international way back in what now seems like yesteryear.  In Brydon Coverdale’s recent article on ESPN Cricinfo, one line mentions that Cricket Australia wants to maximise revenue.  Such a move has the not so appealing aftertaste of pushing away fans, some of which CA in particular has lured with the Twenty20 Big Bash League in recent seasons.

With a concerning desire to become an ultimate power based on money alone, cricket has truly entered the dark ages.

Like the swinging red ball, the pink counterpart has a very high standard to not only set, but actually achieve.  One of Sutherland’s comments about bringing in radical changes 30 years ago certainly rings true, but the era is different.

“But I think if we go back 30-odd years in time when the first ever day-night one-day internationals were played I’m sure there was that same level of trepidation among some stakeholders including players about things like day-night cricket and white balls.’’

Granted, the decision to press forward with this new time slot of test cricket was approved in 2012, but three years from the drawing board to the field feels just a little too quick.  The answer to whether this format works will be revealed in November 2015.


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