Test cricket after dark – do it CSA!
I have always been proud of the fact that cricket in South Africa has been ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation. Those wise heads that decide these matters have been proactive in trying anything different that will advance the game.
As an example, many forget that SuperSport was the first to introduce the shortest format of the game. SuperSport ran an enormously successful single-day 30-over domestic competition (that was further reduced to 20 overs) between franchises they owned well before T20 kicked off in England in 2003.
It is refreshing to know that decision makers and stakeholders within the game in South Africa have that mindset and are not bogged down by lead-footed bureaucracy.
That being the case I reckon another opportunity awaits to trendset.
Pakistan have been making all the right noises recently about day/night test matches being played in the UAE and have just been rejected by Sri Lanka. In October South Africa will be touring that part of the world for a test series and some limited overs action.
Go for it Cricket South Africa! Grab a chance to make history – and in doing so help out a country that needs and deserves some assistance – and boldly announce that those Dubai and Abu Dhabi test matches will be played under lights.
If they remain as standard test matches the skill on show will be accompanied by the reverberating echo of ball on willow in empty stadiums, but that will change dramatically if the games start at about 2pm and finish around 9pm.
The local Asian population will embrace cricket after work as they currently do during day/night one-day games, and the substantial numbers of South African expats will arrive in droves. Dubai with its magnificent stadium is the perfect place to kick this off and temperatures and conditions will be ideal during that period.
If there is still some reservation about the use of the pink ball, which has advanced significantly in development over the last couple of years, why not use a white ball? After all players have been swinging them and thrashing them after dark since the late 70s!
A single white ball will not last 80 overs, so change it. Why not introduce a mandatory used ball change after 50 overs that will get through the next 30? That way there will not be any massive altering of conditions and the accompanying coloured clothing and black sightscreens will breed familiarity.
Day/night test matches at the correct venues that will excite and energise media and spectators will be outstanding. I distinctly remember the Packer Super tests in Australia in the late 70s and the buzz they created. Various means of revenue streams the game attracts will increase substantially due to playing during primetime and broadcasters alike will benefit.
It really seems like a no-brainer to me and it just takes a bold decision or two to get this under way.
I am not saying that all test cricket must be played at night. I am saying that whenever an ideal opportunity presents itself, break the mould and have a go!
It is time to not be precious about test cricket. These days it constantly competes for eyeballs. The younger generation in particular is continually being introduced to modernisation and a magnitude of other attractions.
C'mon Cricket South Africa... be bold. Do it!