Pink balls. Floodlights. Wickets dropping like flies at twilight. It’s time for the traditionalists to spit out their Earl Grey tea and mutter obscenities under their breath. Day-night test cricket has arrived in England.
But at least it’s not all bad news for the fuddy-duddies. Thankfully the players won’t be wearing pyjamas. Only the kids too young to stay up and watch will be wearing coloured garments.
So what can we expect in the coming five days? A bit of a circus I imagine. It won’t exactly be test cricket at we know it, but at least it might be fairly entertaining. And if it lasts more than three and half days I’ll be amazed.
It will be interesting to see how many of the pros and cons we discussed on TFT back in 2011 come to fruition. I guess it’s a positive that the players won’t be on and off for bad light.
As for the likely result, most people expect England to win handsomely. You can pick up an excellent bonus at genting sports if you’re feeling confident. However, the alien conditions could give the Windies a sniff.
Although Stuart Law’s side have only beaten a top eight nation once in the last eight years, they’ve got some dangerous bowlers who might, if they hit form and conditions suit, knock England over cheaply. I’ve always liked Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel has got some wheels, and Jason Holder can land the ball in the right spot more often than not.
Imagine you’re Mark Stoneman for a second. You’ve waited your whole life to make your test debut, and now you’ve got to face the rapid Gabriel at a time of day when picking up the ball is almost impossible.
It could be worse I guess. Imagine facing Joel Garner, now the Windies team manager, in conditions like that. Good luck picking up any colour ball when the bowler’s release point is six feet higher than the sight screen.
The big question for me, however, is whether this day-night game is really necessary. Couldn’t we just play the first test at a normal time of day? Yes I know that the first two day-night tests at Adelaide, and the UAE, attracted big crowds and an above average TV audience, but England doesn’t have the same pleasant climate.
Fortunately the weather forecast for Birmingham over the coming days could be a lot worse, but temperatures could still plummet to around 12 degrees by 9pm each day. That’s not exactly ideal cricket-watching conditions, especially when you factor in 15-20 mph winds.
Hopefully the section of the crowd that forgets to bring a coat and jumper will be too inebriated to notice.
I can understand the desire to experiment with day-night test cricket in parts of the world where the longest form’s popularity is dwindling, but surely the UK is different? Test cricket is in good health on our shores. Why do we need a gimmick like day-night tests?
However, I’m perfectly happy to be proved wrong. If Warwickshire make more money than normal, and the gimmick brings cricket some exposure, then I’ll happily eat my words.
I just hope that day-night test cricket doesn’t take over and become the norm. Conditions will be slightly different and the ball will be pink. This means that the integrity of test cricket’s history and statistics could be somewhat compromised.
I realise this statement makes me sound like an a hundred-year-old stick-in-the-mud, but tradition is important to me. Comprende?
And I’m more than slightly annoyed that the local authorities now want every test at the Adelaide Oval to be a day-nighter. I used to really enjoy the Adelaide test. Why fix something that was never broken and always quite wonderful?
Back to the subject of pink balls, does anyone quite understand why pink is supposedly the easiest colour to see? I always thought it would be more sensible just to use a white ball. And what’s wrong with the yellow ball they use in tennis?
I know they’ve tested different colours, and the white ball scuffs up quite badly, but pink still seems a bit random.
Anyway, I shall be watching with interest over the next few days. I just hope that conditions don’t become too farcical as the lights begin to take effect.
Did you know that 40% of all the wickets taken in the Adelaide and UAE day-night tests fell at twilight? It will be really weird if we start seeing tactical declarations because teams don’t want to bat between eight and nine o’clock.
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