The specific vagaries of night pink ball cricket made the 2nd Ashes Test in Adelaide an absorbing contest for a period of the game.
It was symptomatic of England’s 1st Test loss as well – a few good periods amongst many others which consigned them to running second in each match:
- The tour has some similarities to our Ashes loss to England in 2005: – Each team had its strengths and vulnerabilities.
- Like this England team, we had a young captain in Ricky Ponting, touring England as captain of his first Ashes campaign.
- We had had a low-key build-up to the 1st Test at Lords, and certainly not dominating the lead-in games and tournaments as would have been expected of a team that could assert itself through the series.
- And we had some off-field and internal problems that festered throughout the tour. Unseen in most cases, but nonetheless, fractious and debilitating for the group as we were being stress tested every day as the tour marched along.
One of the main differences was that all we could see was RED.
England in the 2017-18 Ashes are not only seeing RED, but also have been required to see PINK too.
Now we can argue that both sides have had to make those adjustments and Australia did it better. I am not about to get into that debate.
Apart from saying that I could not see what all the Hoo-Ha was about concerning Steve Smith’s declaration, although it does point directly at the root (no pun intended here) of this article.
Steve Smith chose to give his 3 pronged fast bowling attack a rest after what they had been through in Brisbane, as well as an eye to the remainder of the series. He then backed his batsmen to bat England out of the game.
The fact that England played very well in that night session and then for the majority of the next day is not something that should not happen – England are allowed to play well!!
But back to the root of the article.
Pink ball Test cricket is the new format of the game. It is the 4th format behind red ball Test cricket and white ball ODI’s and T20.
The old game now has 2 forms of long cricket and 2 forms of short form cricket. Whether administrators can manage these forms properly and get the balance right is a wait and see proposition.
But importantly what cricket administrators, players, coaches, umpires and media must recognise is that the day/night pink ball format is different to the red ball game – do not mix them, or risk throwing history, traditions, statistics of Test cricket away, being more and more at the mercy of commercial.
The pink ball Test has a place as Adelaide has demonstrated, but it is not for every country, not for every Test series, and not for a whole Test series.
Other countries have experimented with dubious success. England’s one off Test was a disaster due to bleak and cold weather, inducing bowler friendly conditions. Anderson and Broad would have been huge supporters though…
Back to everyone clamouring about Smith’s decision to bat in night conditions. The reason for the outcry was that conditions at night, especially when starting an innings, are completely different to daytime.
Yes conditions change over 5 days of a red ball Test match which makes for the beauty of the game.
But there is little predictability of what these conditions will be from day 1 to day 5.
In pink ball Test cricket, it is predictable that each night, the conditions will be different to the day, no matter what the day. With predictability comes significant influence over decision-making and how a game unfolds – especially as it seems, what you want to be doing during night time.
The whole biorhythms of the players, coaches, umpires have to quickly adapt and change from starting play at 10.30am as opposed to 2.30pm. It is like playing with a bad case of jetlag.
So beyond some of the obvious, do the numbers support the case for the pink ball Test match being seen as totally separate from the traditional red ball Tests?
In his recent very interesting post, Indian cricket analyst, Krishna Tunga examines the pink ball game verses the red ball game a little more closely http://allthatcricket.com/498-ashes-2017/, looking at Adelaide since 2010 when playing red ball Tests verses the 3 day/night pink ball Tests.
The many facts he produces clearly demonstrate that the pink ball game is a different game to the red ball Test match:
- There have been 4 innings under 250 runs in the 3 pink ball Tests compared with only 2 innings in 5 Tests under red ball conditions
- The overall Australian batting average has been 23.3 in pink ball games compared with 35.8 in the traditional Tests
- The average number of balls faced by batsmen before a wicket is lost stands at 45.8 for pink ball matches, while for the red ball, the average is 71.5
If we look at current Australian players batting and bowling data, it adds further weight to the significant difference between the two formats of long game cricket:
|Name||Pink ball average||Red ball average|
The purpose of this post is not to argue one format over the other.
What this post seeks to achieve is that cricket now has a 4th form of the game – pink ball Test cricket.
It will not be played regularly due to a host of climatic, geographical, financial and scheduling issues.
But when it is, do not try to compare it with Red Ball cricket – because red and pink are different, and should not be mixed.
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