Innovations need to be made to spice up the longer version of the game and capture the public’s imagination, that’s why I am in favour of day/night Test matches being introduced into the cricket calendar.
England are scheduled to play three such games over the next 12 months, including an Ashes showdown in Adelaide in December, with the first coming at Edgbaston against West Indies in August.
I am curious to see whether players and supporters buy into the concept longer-term. For me, it’s just a different approach and something which challenges the norm.
The latest round of domestic fixtures has seen all 18 counties in action and playing under floodlights with their England representatives available in a bid to give international players a taste of day/night action and the pink ball.
It has been a real shame that the weather has intervened so much but it will be interesting to hear the feedback from the players. Rain aside, the experiment looks to have gone pretty well.
On a practical level, the later start time, which this week has been 2pm, allows people to watch or attend a large part of the game after finishing work in the early evening.
It will all take some getting used to as indications suggest the ball tends to move a bit more under the lights – the so-called twilight period – and in wet and gloomy conditions it is potentially even more difficult for batsmen.
The seam of the pink ball tends to be more pronounced, while it wouldn’t appear to swing as conventionally as the normal red ball because of the lacquer used and different leather.
Some low scores have been evident this week but Surrey racked up 516-7 declared against Yorkshire at Headingley, a ground where the ball tends to move around. Essex’s openers, meanwhile, including former England skipper Alastair Cook, shared a 373-run stand.
There have also been some interesting tactics employed. Hampshire and Sussex both declared while nine wickets down in a bid to maximise time with the pink ball under the floodlights, while Worcestershire sent in two pinch-hitters early in their innings against Durham.
A similar thing happened when we first started playing Twenty20 cricket in this country in 2003. Nobody quite knew how to approach the new format; in fact it wasn’t really taken particularly seriously to begin with.
That has certainly changed as has the game in general. A score of 150 was probably seen as a winning score back then whereas now knocks of 180 are par. Spin and pace off the ball is crucial in the modern day, which was not conventional wisdom when we began.
More day/night games need to be played to allow for tactical experiments but I am all in favour of the concept becoming a regular fixture in the County Championship season.
That said, it is crucial to take note of the players’ evaluation of the project. If they haven’t enjoyed it or don’t think it is worthwhile then the case for pursuing it becomes weaker.
It is also important to keep the pink ball as close to its red equivalent as possible so that it doesn’t turn into a one-sided affair with either bat or ball dominating. But if the players and fans are enjoying it, let’s carry on.