Cricket Australia’s plans to stage the world’s first ever floodlit Test match within the next two years would not improve the game of cricket and would dislodge the sport from its rich traditions.
Day/night cricket is a great innovation that has helped the development of the one-day game at both domestic and international level, as well as opening the door for the Twenty20 format to thrive.
However, by adapting the playing conditions of a floodlit cricket match to the purest form of the game would only serve to cheapen the spectacle.
The inception of floodlit cricket by Kerry Packer in the 1970s served to help the limited-overs game develop and thrive, bringing it out of the shadows of the traditional Test match.
World Series Cricket revolutionised the game and brought in so many innovations that helped drag the sport into the 20th century, including raising the wages that cricketers received.
But the use of a white – or pink, due to a clash with Test match whites – ball would not be conducive to producing five-day cricket that is any more riveting than it already is.
Day/night cricket was initially introduced partly due to a gap in the market. By allowing families to watch a game in the evening, more people were able to attend matches and tune in on the television.
This would not necessarily have the same effect on Test cricket though. The longer, more drawn out nature of the format wouldn’t entice casual viewers, and is generally followed by purists.
In this day and age, cricket is unique for its five days of marathon action that can keep fans on the edge of their seat at times, while also entailing periods where the match cools off.
Another deterrent for floodlit Test matches is the concept’s potential to force some players into an early retirement.
Chris Rogers is just one example of a colour blind Test cricketer, who would struggle to see the pink ball during play.
That could unfortunately lead to the left-hander prematurely departing the game if floodlit games became the norm, although it would be more tragic if it curtailed the career of someone even younger than the 37-year-old.
One way around that dilemma would be to implement a change to coloured kits, allowing the use of a white ball under the lights. But this would signal another re-writing of the rulebook that would take more tradition away from Test cricket.
Experiments have taken place – like the one between Kent and Glamorgan in 2011 – but haven’t really proven that floodlit four or five day cricket is the way forward.
The Test format is still a strong one, and that is largely due to its loyalty to the stark traditions that have ruled it for hundreds of years now.
To make wholesale changes would spoil the game for generations to come, and that is something that should not happen.
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