Success is measured in many ways and I think there are two major areas for measurement after the first day/night test.
The first is commercial success. Anyone with their finger on the pulse knows that commercially the Adelaide test was nothing short of brilliant. The punters voted with their feet. 120 odd thousand people over 3 days and approximately five million television viewers show that this concept isn’t going anywhere.
I think there is an element of novelty to it though. Anytime there is a first like this, people generally want to be a part of history. No offense to the Adelaide locals, but since the redevelopment of the Adelaide Oval, anything hosted by the Oval is attended by anyone who can get there. It has become a social occasion. Which isn’t the problem. I think it’s great that such an iconic piece of Australia’s sporting landscape has reinvigorated itself for generations to come. It was such a shame to the purist that the ground will never be the same, but what an amazing outcome. The place is a photographer’s dream, and I’m sure the players still love playing there.
The second measurement for success: the pink ball. When looking at the conditions supplied for this test, it was very un-Adelaide like. We can’t throw stones at the English Cricket Board (ECB) for “requesting English pitches” during the last few tests of the Ashes, and then purpose prepare a wicket like this in Adelaide. There is only one reason there was grass left on the wicket and that was to preserve the pink ball. After the pink ball was reduced to cow hide at Canberra’s Manuka Oval, there was no way that Cricket Australia were going to have such an abrasive pitch in Adelaide. Especially considering this was the litmus test on the prized pink ball and the day/night test concept. With so much on the line, there was only one way forward.Obviously the Adelaide curator didn’t decide to throw caution to the wind against the history of the ground and just prepare a seemer for fun. The extra grass on the wicket combined with the extra lush outfield meant the pink ball was always going to be in the best possible care, a clear directive from the higher powers. Despite the hypocrisy, this isn’t even my biggest problem.
On a side note and looking back to the previous test, is it just a little bit too convenient that there were so many ball changes? It really helps the case for the pink ball if the red ball is getting changed so often. I just don’t like coincidences that are so coincidental.
Now, down to my fundamental issue….
My problem stands with the public relations nonsense we are constantly fed. The average punter wants this concept to work. It’s better for almost everyone. How many times have you been at work on the first two days of a test, listening to it on the radio, knowing you have no way of getting there? If this concept can be proven to work, then surely most other countries will be in (probably outside of India, just because).
My point is, we don’t need to have a pitch purposely prepared to support the pink ball, just so the Boards can say it was a success. What the public wants is a fair assessment of the ball so we can figure out how far away this thing is from actually working.
If Cricket Australia wasn’t so concerned about the pink ball lasting the full 80 overs, and instead asked Adelaide to give the pitch just a hint of green for the first day, I could have handled that. It seems to me that they over-compensated specifically so it could be publicised as a success. For me, this oversteps the mark. The PM XI match against New Zealand was a 50 over game and the ball looked disgraceful. There is no way the pink ball is ready for test match cricket, in the average conditions seen in Australia and around the world.
For the record, I believe that day/night tests are the way forward. The Adelaide test is day one of the next chapter, and I’m really pumped about it. But, Cricket Australia, please treat the public like adults. We can handle the fact that this is an experiment and as such, we can handle some failures. Don’t sell us roses knowing the petals are just about to fall off.
I would like to see the next one trailed at the GABBA. The GABBA test has slowly been pushed further and further forward in the calendar year so we can squeeze more cricket in for the season. By the time the GABBA test arrives, the punters in Brisbane are still getting over the winter codes. The families are starting to get some spare money together in time for school holidays and Christmas. Queenslanders are sports nuts…. They will bet on a cockroach race when given the chance, proven by the Australia Day Cockroach Races at the Story Bridge Hotel.
Let’s see how this concept goes in a place where numbers are dwindling. In a time when most parents could really use the $20 last session tickets to take their kids to see their test heroes play on a pitch that is a known seemer anyway. No special order required.