Fast tracking the concept of Day\Night Tests into reality can be a dangerous business. It could well end up endangering the game's foremost format.
The ICC Cricket Committee's views on day\night Test matches assumed significance when it said on Friday, “Should the competing countries in a bi-lateral series agree that they wish to trial day/night Test cricket, then this request should be accommodated.”
The Cricket Committee's recommendations — the panel met in London on May 30 and 31 — will be put before ICC for approval during its annual conference in Kuala Lumpur from June 24 to 28.
Test cricket is the game's lifeline and it's soul; all other formats revolve around it. Day\Night cricket — essentially sought to be introduced to draw more spectators at the venue — might threaten the very fabric of the game.
The challenges of the conditions in the morning, the dew and the movement, the natural wear and tear on the pitch as the sun beats down, the cracks developing on the surface as the match develops, cricketers fighting exhaustion and match's natural progression over five days are the elements that make Test cricket so fascinating. The natural sun light and its symbiotic relationship with the wicket is the heart of the matter.
Even the fading light and the drama associated with it are integral ingredients of a Test. Artificial lights are all right for one-day or twenty20 formats where the emphasis is on entertainment. But Test cricket is about the game's aesthetics and its purity.
The problem with day/night Tests is that the fine balance that the differing conditions of a day lend to a game suffers when one team bats or bowls in the afternoon or evening and another side does so at night.
And Test cricket in coloured clothing with, possibly, a pink ball could hit the game where it hurts most.
The ICC panel, though, has come up with some welcome recommendations for ODI cricket. The proposal for allowing two bouncers in an over in one-dayers is wonderful news. It will even up the contest, bring the fast bowlers into play. Pretenders would no longer be able to get on to the front foot after a bouncer had been sent down in an over.
Now a second one could get them; this would also ensure only the technically better equipped batsmen survive.
The proposal to limit the number of Power Play overs to 15 and scrap the bowling power play cannot be faulted.
The five overs of bowling power play had become a mere formality with captains almost always taking it immediately after the first 10 mandatory power play overs.
In fact, the panel's suggestion is also an indictment of the lack of imagination of skippers across the cricketing world.
However, the limiting of the number of fielders outside the 30-yard circle in the non power-play overs from five to four could be extremely hard on spinners.
The eminent committee appears to have forgotten that deep-set field placements could also be attacking ones when spinners operate to a plan; a batsman can be set up.
Finally, there could be some good news for those seeking cleaner bowling actions. “A prototype sensor has been developed capable of producing data that can be worn during matches and would indicate whether or not the bowler's elbow is being straightened during the delivery swing. The next phase of the project will involve the further development of the sensors and the validation of the data produced,” the ICC panel said. Indeed, how a bowler operates during a match situation is what matters.
Keywords: Day\Night Tests