Of late, the head honchos of the International Cricket Committee (ICC) have been making quite a few noticeable changes in the limited-overs version, but the fact that they’ve decided to innovate in the Test arena as well in a bid to resurrect the game’s original format is heartwarming. The introduction of day-night Test cricket has been heavily discussed in the past, and although it remained in the pipeline for quite some time, albeit for logical reasons, it’s good to see the ICC finally give a green signal. While the cricketing world could probably face a few initial challenges during its implementation, the fact remains that it is a positive step forward.
This was one of the core points put forth by Rahul Dravd when he spoke at the annual Bradman Oration last year. “Day-night Tests is an idea seriously worth exploring. There may be some challenges in places where there is dew but the visibility and durability of the pink cricket ball was not an issue,” said Dravid. While there are enough T20 internationals, domestic leagues and abundance of One-Day Internationals (ODIs) with very little at stake, an innovation of this kind specific to Test cricket may just be the shot in the arm the format and cricket in general needs.
Domestic games in South Africa, Australia and West Indies have been experimenting with day-night matches since the last few years with the idea of playing such matches at the Test match level in future. Bangladesh too was willing to experiment with the pink ball in its first-class matches. However, a few weeks ago, officials of Cricket South Africa (CSA) raised concerns over the colour of the ball. The pink ball was changed five times in 112 overs in a First-class game held at South Africa. "It seems as though as the ball does not last very long. It will have to be investigated more if cricket is played this way in future," one of the officials said.
These are a few problems that will cop up during the application stages of the process. Nevertheless, it is important to believe that the flaws will be ironed out with every passing game. It’s commendable that the ICC hasn’t shelved this idea owing to a few concerns. Rather, they’ve given all the boards licence to experiment, which is a positive sign. "Participating countries may agree to play day/night Test matches. The home and visiting boards will decide on the hours of play which will be six hours of scheduled play per day while the two boards will also decide on the precise brand, type and colour of ball to be used for the match," the ICC said in a statement.
While filling stadiums during Test matches remains a concern, it’s important to note that with the advent of T20, it’s an arduous task to rope in capacity crowds for a five-day match. Nevertheless, the first step would be to rekindle interest in Test cricket, and the way ahead for that to happen is to introduce day-night Tests. There is no dearth of crowds in Australia, South Africa and England, but the same cannot be said about other nations. It’s important that one of these nations kick start the process, primarily because they can generate interest and since they’re already familiar with the requirements.
T20 is no doubt the best instrument to globalise the game, but eventually, the health of cricket depends on its traditional format; and the sooner Test cricket returns to its pedestal, the better it is for the game. Challenges are inevitable before the start of a major assignment, and although one feels that the ICC could have waited a tad bit longer before consenting in order to address the impending issues, the best way to iron out flaws will be to straightaway implement it. It’s a positive move by the ICC, one that will pay rich dividends with every game.
(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/