Day/night Test, new boost to cricket

November 27, 2015, will go down as a landmark day in the history of cricket much like the arrival of one-day internationals some 44 years ago, the introduction of coloured clothing and white ball, and the advent of T20s. Each of these development has brought with it its own set of advantages and disadvantages and every time the game has managed to find a middle path to progress. The first ever day/night Test at Adelaide between Australia and New Zealand, who incidentally were involved in the first ever T20 international on February 17, 2005, was a big success on most parameters and something that’s going to be part of the game moving forward. The International Cricket Council, Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket should be congratulated for taking the initiative that involved years of contemplation, negotiation, working with the ball manufacturers to arrive at the right kind of sphere and last but not the least, convincing the players. The minor apprehensions notwithstanding, the pink ball Test passed majority of tests. The players didn’t have too many complaints at the end of the match and the response from the fans was overwhelming. Though the quality of cricket in itself was less than spectacular, the three-day finish provided perfect antidote to the Perth Test where both teams stacked up totals of over 500 in a boring draw.

That an average of 41,000 patrons per day watched history being created from the stands and another 3.19 million tuned into final day’s action reflected both the interest and the excitement among the public. While there could be a temptation to attribute crowd response to the novelty factor, there can be no doubt that the pink-ball Test is a step in the right direction.

As more day/night matches are played, there are bound to be more questions raised. For one, the durability of the ball depends on the conditions the game is played in. For example, the curators had to ensure generous grass coverage on the Adelaide pitch for the pink ball, which goes soft quickly, to last 80 overs, a norm in Test cricket. As a result, batsmen struggled, especially in the night, against the swinging ball. No team crossed 250 and the highest individual score was 66. After being reduced to being bowling machines in Perth, the balance had been restored in favour of the bowlers at Adelaide. Will the pitches in the sub-continent sport the prescribed amount of grass to preserve the pink ball? And there is the dew factor to go with it. There are some pressing issues that pink ball promoters do have to address. But cynicism from purists is no solution either.

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