A general view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground © Getty Images
A general view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground © Getty Images

 

By Karthik Parimal

 

Like it or not, Twenty20 has definitely lured viewers away from the five-day format. However, Test cricket has been and will remain the most genuine form of cricket. “Innovation is the key to success” is oft-heard cliché – but one that’s very sensible. Test cricket might have lost a few of its audience, but it cannot ever lose its charm. The best and obvious way to popularize Test cricket again is to introduce day-night cricket which will re-inject the interest back into Test matches.

 

It won’t be long before day-night Tests become a reality. However, a few challenges have to be overcome before it is successfully implemented. Day-night cricket has been tried in first-class games involving sides from Australia and also in the West Indies. The reviews so far slightly tilt towards the positive. However, it has its fair share of negatives too. For example, a day-night Test match will hold no meaning if it is played during summer time in England because it doesn’t get dark till 10.00 p.m. The essence of a Test match has to be retained. There shouldn’t be major factors which can influence the outcome of a game due to different playing conditions. Hence, venues where there is a possibility of heavy dew needs to be avoided.

 

Consumption of electricity is another issue that needs to be looked into. Not all states can afford the luxury of lighting up a stadium for five days as a few of them are already energy-starved.

 

Once these and a few other challenges are met, the popularity levels of Test cricket should see an upswing. Twenty20 is just an entertainment, a slog-fest. But the tactics, battles and mind games employed in a Test match are a treat for the connoisseurs of the game. The skills and patience of a player are tested.

 

Steve Waugh perfectly described the importance of Test cricket when he said, “Quality always survives. As a cricketer I think you’ve got to be true to yourself. Why did you take up the game? To fulfill your potential, and you can’t do that by playing Twenty20, because you can’t bat for a whole day and you can’t bowl 30 overs. And as a cricketer I think it wouldn’t be that satisfying if I couldn’t get out there and technically, mentally and physically challenges myself against the best players in the world over five days.” So very true.

 

A couple of decades ago, people were cynical about the introduction of coloured jerseys, white ball, a black sight screen or day-night limited-overs internationals. But now, it is accepted as a part and parcel of this game. The day-night Tests may also become conventional a few years down the line. The first step has to be taken.

 

Progress has been rapid towards the removal of obstacles so far. The MCC World Cricket Committee has successfully tested the use of pink coloured cricket balls that can be used for the day-night version of this format. A few other challenges have also been met successfully by this committee. The ICC has also indicated recently the possibility of a day-night Test next year. At the outset things are definitely looking up for Test cricket. As an ardent cricket lover, I hope that in the years to come, empty stands during a Test match anywhere will be a rarity and people will start to appreciate cricket in its divine form more often.