Cricket is evolving as a sport. Sometimes, however, the changes implemented by the ICC are not always for the best. While the premise of day-night cricket seems plausible superficially, it seems absurd that it needs to be used in England. The entire use of day-night cricket is to draw larger crowds to matches, but in a country where virtually all Tests are sold out in most grounds, one has to question the utility of such a format.
There are several reasons why day-night Test should not be used in England and the Edgbaston Test showed that it was not even implemented in the correct manner.
Puzzling Lack of Twilight Ticket
One of the main advantages of day-night cricket is that it allows spectators to come to the ground and watch after work and school. Australia introduced a “twilight ticket” which was at a reduced price and allowed access to the last two sessions. However, this was, for some reason, unavailable at the Edgbaston Test. As a result, the crowd did not, in fact, get larger as the day progressed and all the people who attended would have been as likely to have gone even if it wasn’t a day-night game. In reality, the crowd attendance dropped as the day progressed, with it visibly being quieter at the end of the last session.
The main reason for this was the fact that most spectators relied on public transport to get home, meaning they had to catch a certain bus from outside the ground. So while it was implemented to increase attendances it, in fact, did the opposite.
Lord’s and the Oval: Problems Arise
Edgbaston is unique in the way that it is located in a city, but not in a purely residential area. This meant that the ECB were able to stage a day-night Test there and they did not encounter any problems with the local city council. At the London grounds, Lord’s and the Oval, this wouldn’t be the case. Even as it is Lord’s struggles to use their floodlights for domestic T20 matches and they are allocated certain days when they can actually turn them on.
As a result, it would make it virtually impossible to stage a day-night Test at Lord’s and the same issue arises in the context of the Oval as well. Therefore, day-night cricket couldn’t be universalised across England meaning that only certain grounds such as Edgbaston could host them. Since this rules out the controversial idea of changing all Test cricket to day-night cricket, it seems rather pointless to have a different format being played at different grounds. There is no need to change the status quo in England.
Pink Ball: Mixed Reviews
A key part of day-night cricket is the use of a pink ball, which is easier for the batsman to see under lights. There have been varied reports about how successful the use of the ball has been. It seemed as if the Windies struggled bowling with it on the first day at Edgbaston, as it repeatedly slipped out of their seamers’ hands.
Moreover, in the first games played with it in Australia, many players were not happy with the way in which deteriorated and failed to hold firm. This significantly reduced the quality of cricket being played and everyone certainly preferred the red ball over it. There is no point taking a substantial risk in implementing it if it is not a viable long-term solution at the moment.
There are two options available to the ICC regarding such a dilemma, either to simply scrap pink ball cricket, which seems like the best thing to do, or wait until the ball has been reached a strong enough standard to be well-received by all the players.
One Key Advantage
Asides from the supposed advantage of increasing crowd attendance, which we have seen is already flawed, the only benefit of playing day-night cricket in England is that it allows English players to adapt to that format. It has been revealed that one of the Ashes Tests next year will be in the day-night format and it would have been absurd for England to have gone into that clash without having played any pink ball cricket before. Ultimately, though, the Windies Test provided no experience for England, as they folded tamely and didn’t trouble England in the slightest. Now that they have tried playing day-night cricket, there is no need for England to repeat such an experiment again.