TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
THE lights will stay off for the third test between Australia and SA in Adelaide in November – for now.
Cricket Australia (CA) released their fixtures for 2016-17 on Wednesday, and the only day-night test scheduled is against Pakistan in Brisbane in December.
But the Aussie suits remain hopeful that the Saffers will wake up and smell what they consider to be the future.
“We are working with Cricket SA (CSA) with a view to ensuring that the Adelaide test is a day/night test,” CA chief executive James Sutherland said.
“With more than 123 000 people attending and an average of two million watching on television last season (when Australia and New Zealand played the inaugural day/night test), there is enormous expectation that we deliver another pink-ball test match this summer in Adelaide.”
SA’s senior players pulled the plug on the idea based on the feedback they received from the Australians when they toured in March – that the ball was difficult to pick up visually in fading and artificial light, and that a pitch left unusually grassy to help preserve the condition of the ball was key to the Australia-New Zealand game ending inside three days.
“It’s an extremely important match – potentially a decider – and series to the Proteas and the players’ strong desire to play this as a normal test match is testament to how much they actually care about the series,” SA Cricketers’ Association chief executive Tony Irish said.
“There is understanding for what CA is trying to achieve and of the commercial advantages but this is still very experimental and there is also a strong cricket imperative, inside the ropes, and the players’ views should be important here.”
Which would seem to be the kernel of the debate. After all, Sutherland’s view is that “day/night test cricket is all about the fans”.
The players? They’re in there somewhere …
“(SA’s players) are well aware of the views of the New Zealand and Australian players expressed after the first day/night test,” Irish said. “It has been clear from all of this that the Australian players are also reluctant to play the match as a day/nighter and that they want to play a normal test match.”
The discussion took an interesting turn on Wednesday when AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn raised, independently, much the same concerns Irish expressed.
But Steyn, perhaps feeling his bowler’s blood surge, also told CA’s website, “I don’t want to go through my whole career without playing a day-night game. How cool are they?
“Right now I’m leaving it to CSA and for them to make a decision, but to be honest with you I’d love to play one.”
SA in Australia:
1st test: Perth, November 3-7.
2nd test: Hobart, November 12-16.
3rd test: Adelaide, November 24-28