Friday 4 July 2014 

Comment - Why Day-Night Cricket Could Save The Test Game

A pink cricket ball
Messieurs Clarke, Lynn, Pietersen and Wade may not approve of playing cricket with a pink ball under lights, but others, such as Rahul Dravid and this author, think it's worth a try
© REUTERS / Acton Images
 

Day-night Tests have garnered a lot of attention since Cricket Australia revealed that they were planning to play a day-night Test against New Zealand next year.

However, I honestly believe we need to give day-night Tests a chance as they could be the answer to saving Test cricket.

Going In To Bat For Day/Night Cricket

"We are serious about pushing ahead with the concept of day-night Test cricket.

"We feel it will only strengthen the position and possibilities for Test cricket in many parts of the world.

"There are many Test matches played during non-holiday periods when adults are at work and kids are at school.

"That’s not an ideal way to promote the highest form of the game. In fact there isn’t a major team sport in the world that schedules the majority of its premium content during the working week."

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia

People have been awfully quick to criticise day-night Tests already, but what they have to remember is that it has only been trialled in domestic leagues, like Australia's Sheffield Shield.

Furthermore, both Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) will host more trials before agreeing to play a day-night Test. So for all those people who strongly oppose day-night Tests, take a deep breath. Nothing has been finalised as of right now.

While the fans have their opinions on the matter, what do the players think? It was no surprise to find out that some players were for and some were against day-night Tests. But, what were the reasons fuelling their optimism or pessimism?

Queensland batsman Chris Lynn and Victoria wicket-keeper Matthew Wade, both of whom have played a day-night Sheffield Shield first-class match, were against the idea. Lynn said that it was hard to see the white seam on the pink ball used, thus making it harder for the batsmen to score runs.

Subsequently, this would lead to an unfair contest between bat and ball. Wade not only agreed with Lynn's views, but added that he believed it would be a long time before day-night Tests were introduced.

Even former and current international players are sceptical about the idea of day-night Tests. Ex-England batsman Kevin Pietersen called the idea "stupid" and noted that he was "not a fan of it at all".

"I have never played with the pink ball," Pietersen said in April.

"And if they start playing day-night Test cricket, then they have to start new statistics because it’s totally different.

"You’ve got Brett Lee running in at quarter to 10 at night with the second new ball. I mean it’s just stupid.

"I don’t know if it’ll work, but I am not a fan of it at all.

"If they want to play it, then it can be a new form of cricket, but they have to use new statistics for it for sure.

"If you are going to play day-night Test cricket in Durban, I can’t see a ball spinning when the sun goes down, and the light comes on. I can see the ball seaming.

"On day five, spinners win you Test matches. But with the lights coming on, it will be seamers who will win you matches on day five. So I am not a fan of it at all."

Even Australia Test captain Michael Clarke was against the idea of day-night Tests since he doesn't believe it will do anything to help the fading reputation of Test cricket.

"I’ve never experienced Test cricket at night so I don’t know what it’s like…but I don't believe we need to have day-night Test cricket for Test cricket to survive," Clarke said in May.

"I think if you've watched any Test cricket over the last 12 months, there would have been a lot of people off their chairs watching the game."

However, while day-night Tests may have been given the cold shoulder by Lynn, Wade, Pietersen and Clarke, there is one legend of the game who is calling for it to go ahead.

India batting great Rahul Dravid has long been an advocate of saving Test cricket from being overshadowed by Twenty20 Internationals and domestic tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Big Bash League (BBL).

Dravid is keen to see the what kind of impact day-night Tests will have on the sport, but he believes that it will definitely help boost attendance on most days. He says this because many people work during the days and will thus feel more inclined to unwind by watching Test cricket at night.

But, some argue that if Test matches start at 6pm, they will only conclude at 1am, which will cause fans to leave early and could also be detrimental to the players' health. While their argument is definitely valid, they still have to give it a chance and see whether it flourishes or withers.

After seeing what the players have had to say, I honestly feel that day-night Tests should be given a chance.

I am interested to see if it really is the answer to the attendance crisis at matches, and whether it can also help boost the popularity of the format. It would be a grave mistake not to at least trial this revolutionary new idea as it could easily be revoked, but it could also easily be the saviour of Test cricket as we know it.

© Cricket World 2014