Time to introduce day/night Test matches to save test future
T20, the fastest format of cricket has, to some extent, outplayed the traditional Test and ODI format of world cricket. Cricket management and the senior players - who had once been a part of Test and ODI cricket - fear for the future of traditional formats of cricket. They are continuously working on rejuvenation of the existing formats of Test and ODI cricket to get the crowd that has become a story of past.
The MCC World Cricket Committee is concerned about the future of five-day format unless some quick measures are taken to encourage the traditional format. The committee has suggested day/night format for Test cricket and has asked for immediate implementation to boost the five-day game in countries with low attendances.
The committee, which met at Lord’s in a two day meeting which concluded on Friday, also included former players. The MCC World Cricket Committee believes in a Test Championship to catch audience for the five-day game, but at the same time emphasized on a the introduction of floodlit test matches as soon as possible. The committee concluded that test matches under lights have become viable now.
John Stephenson, the MCC assistant secretary, said that International Cricket Council should not delay in introducing day-night pink-ball matches. An experimental four-day game under lights was introduced earlier in Abu Dhabi and it was an absolutely successful experiment.
"It was the perfect experiment, and demonstrated this game should go ahead now. We don't need another 18 months of research. The world of cricket is ready. It should not wait; the time is now."
The former Australian captain, Steve Waugh, also attended the committee and joined hands with the MCC World Cricket Committee in advocating the pink-ball revolution. "I think it would be great," he said. "There's always resistance to change because it takes people out of their comfort zone, but I think back to World Series Cricket back when I was a kid. It ignited the spark among the spectators, and as players it's exciting. Like Twenty20 cricket, it would be something new and challenging, and as a player I'd really embrace that.”
He said that the traditional test cricket format needs some revolutionary changes to get the audience back on board and watching it. He said that every change in the beginning gets some criticism but to get the game out of its plunging condition, this change is the need of hour.
International cricket council is a bit more cautious about the change and wants to do some more research before introduction of day/night tests as the feedback of players that came out of the Abu Dhabi series was not unanimously positive. However the departing ICC president David Morgan, hinted that day/night test could happen soon. He said that he had talked to the Australian administrators, whom he expected to be against day/night test format but did not get as much resistance from them. Mogan said that the time is not far when test lovers would see day/night test matches in India or Australia.
An MCC statement said that a research conducted in New Zealand, South Africa and India, published in November 2009, revealed that the Cricket fans in these countries strongly favoured day/night Test cricket and were desperately waiting for a World Test Championship.
Steve Waugh said that the senior players can play an important role in convincing the fresh cricketing lot to the test cricket. He condemned Chris Gayle’s statement where he said that he prefers T20 cricket. He said it is the due responsibility of senior cricketers to respect the traditional Test cricket and at the same time should pass it on to the young cricketers.
Fair balanced Test match pitches favouring both the bat and the ball are also necessary to improve the spectacle of test cricket as the cricketing public wants to see both the bowler as well as the batsman in action. Low and slow Bangali pitches, favouring batsmen, are a poor example for the game. The South African pitches, that offer bounce as well as help the bowlers, are ideal test pitches. At the same time the organizers should ensure the players that test cricket is also a financially rewarding career just like T20 is. Not only the limited overs but also the lucrative rewards attract the freelance cricketers.