sports

The Emergence of the Pink Ball

In a predictably difficult summer for English cricket with its chaotic three game format schedule having to compete with the European Football Championships and Olympics in addition to the regular events of the sporting summer calendar a Day/Night test match would have been a useful asset in the effort to ensure that cricket remains on the main summer sporting agenda and in the public eye..

The growing possibility of England hosting Day Night Test Matches possibly as early as 2017 (with Edgbaston the most likely venue) demonstrates a willingness by the England and Wales Cricket Board to show some initiative whilst pragmatically recognising that the future of Test cricket is increasingly threatened by the global mushrooming of the Twenty/2O spectacle and the growing impact of the portfolio cricketer moving around the globe to participate in an array of Twenty/20 tournaments

Although a more difficult format to sell in an English climate compared to Australia, the West Indies or South Africa, the opportunity to lure a new audience into Test cricket may well help to sustain the Test Match format that is watched by far fewer than previously, though the audience figures still hold up well in England and Wales despite the failure to achieve sell-out crowds on the Friday and Saturday of the Edgbaston Test against Pakistan.  Scheduling some Test Cricket for  a Day/Night format would make attendance easier for the bulk of the population, ensure the avoidance of extreme heat, minimise skin damage whilst remaining a viable proposition for broadcasters.

The response to the first Day/Night Test match in Australia in 2015 was very positive and Cricket Australia are exploring further such matches in the not too distant future against South Africa and Pakistan

In this time-poor era, people do not have the luxury of taking time off from work to go to one day let alone multiple days of Test Match cricket. It is imperative that the game acknowledges this and becomes more accessible to people at the match and on television.

At the start of the new century, twenty over cricket became the new kid on the block and began to demand its place in the sun – or under the moon. All over the world, new domestic series of the Twenty/20 format sprang up and began to squeeze the other formats for time and space. Two other things combined to put more pressure on Test cricket. Many nations were finding it harder to afford the development programs while players from the poorer nations were opting to board the Twenty/20 train rather than play the longest form of the game for their country and Test cricket was in danger of becoming a part-time player in the future.

No doubt the change of playing conditions from day to night will create some challenges for the players, but they will have to keep adapting as players have had to do since the introduction of day-night cricket during the 1970’s under the late business magnate Kerry Packer.

No doubt there will be many traditionalists who will decry the move as being “just  not cricket”, however, if the game does not adjust to the needs of the paying public, the price of not doing so will be a hefty one indeed.

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