History will be made on Friday when the Adelaide Oval in Australia hosts the first ever day/night cricket Test against New Zealand. This innovation is gigantic and could well determine the future of Test cricket, which although attracts huge following on TV, needs more spectators.
Historically, the Australians have been pioneers in making the game more attractive for the paying public. They have perfected this art. Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket changed cricket forever, but even before the Packer era, the Australians played a role in reviving Test cricket, albeit more in their own country. Sir Donald Bradman, retired but an integral part of Australian cricket administration in 1960, noticed how the public was not exactly captivated by the action in 1958-59 and 1959-60. So when the 1960-61 season came along, he wanted to make the Australia vs West Indies series an exciting one.
Bradman sought permission from then Australia skipper Richie Benaud to address the team before the opening Test at Brisbane. He told the players that the selectors would look upon them in “kindly fashion” if they entertained. That Brisbane Test ended in a tie and both teams played entertaining cricket throughout the series. West Indies lost 1-2, but they were given a motorcade farewell. The fourth Test of that series in Adelaide ended in a thrilling draw and cricket lovers would feel their Christmas has come early if Friday’s Test at the same venue generates a keen fare.
There have been reservations expressed about the pink ball to be used in Adelaide — whether it will last and how fair it will be to the batsmen who may not be able to sight the seam. But cynics and traditionalists should look at the future of the game, treat it like just another change and let the administrators decide its viability.
It is often said that no one is bigger than the game. It’s time to walk that talk.