Think pink, or perhaps politics, about day/night tests

Times Media


TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

PAKISTAN, already signed up for a day/night test in Australia this summer, are asking West Indies to play another in the Emirates. India didn’t bother telling New Zealand that one of their tests there this year could be a day/nighter, but the Kiwis say they’re keen anyway.

At least, that’s among administrators. So why do Cricket SA seem to be the only suits who don’t want to do it with the lights on?

“Because they respect the players’ views,” Tony Irish, the chief executive of the SA Cricketers’ Association, said. “This is an inside the ropes issue, a pure cricket issue. That’s how it should work – the players should be central to that decision.”

CSA have turned down Cricket Australia’s (CA) request for the third test of SA’s series there next season, in Adelaide, to be a day/nighter, because of widely voiced concerns over the pink ball’s visibility and durability. But insiders say the matter remains open for discussion between the two boards.

The Aus$1-million sweetener CA added to their argument when they were trying to convince New Zealand to play what became the inaugural day/night test in Adelaide in November turned out to be an offer the visitors couldn’t refuse. A million Aussie dollars is almost R11-million …

“We have not discussed money, I can assure you of that,” Irish said. “This is an experiment in Australia. There is no centrally developed strategy to play this all over the world.

“That’s fine, but our guys don’t want to experiment in a vitally important test match where they’re going to be at a disadvantage. Our guys have never played with the pink ball. Their guys have.

“This is an even more crucial test series for SA now that we’ve dropped in the rankings, and that’s potentially the deciding match. That’s the issue – it’s not about money.”

But it could be about politics. If the disapproving views of Jacques Kallis and Allan Donald on the government holding cricket to account for its failure to meet transformation targets are part of the discourse among current players who are paid exponentially more by T20 circuses than CSA, the suits could be giving the players what they want to try and quell thoughts of premature retirements.

If the South Africans’ beef is purely about the ball they are in good company. Even the Australian players – who beat New Zealand inside three day/nights in Adelaide – have said through their association that they would “prefer” not to play more than one day/night test a season.

What of the Kiwis? “The first day/night test in Adelaide was a huge financial and commercial success and our players enjoyed participating in the occasion,” Heath Mills, chief executive of the New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association, told Times Media.

“There is no question that day/night test cricket will be part of the test landscape moving forward and we will be playing more of these games in the future. We can’t lose sight of the need to deliver what the fans want and the need to enhance this format of the sport.

“However, we don’t believe it will be a panacea for the problems facing that format of the game.”

Among them is the disconnect between cricketers who don’t want to play day/night tests until the quality of the ball is improved and administrators who don’t want to wait for that to happen.

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