Ian Baker - Pink balls and floodlights are not the way forward
01 Apr 2010 - 11:22:09
This week cricket took another step away from its roots.
Pink balls and floodlights were the name of the game as the traditional English season opener between MCC and the county champions (Durham) took place a fortnight earlier than usual a million miles away from Lord's.
The Shekih Zayed Stadium is at least 25 miles from Abu Dhabi in the middle of the desert. You have to drive through dirt tracks to even reach it! And there were more journalists than spectators watching the game.
There has certainly been plenty of criticism of the pink ball so far as cricket's authorities look to complete with Lalit Modi's Indian Premier League.
Modi recently claimed that unless Test cricket goes to a day-night affair, it will die. I somehow doubt that. Even in India, where fans have been mesmerised by Twenty20 cricket, spectators still turned out in their thousands for the recent Test series against South Africa.
English and Australian fans still see Test cricket as the pinnacle but it is time the five day game fought back.
The longer form is purer - it is a game for batsmen and bowlers, not purely the run scorers. It can also be seen as a metaphor for life. Sometimes you need to be cautious, sometimes you need to be brave, sometimes you need to be calm.
In Twenty20 it is wham, bam, thank you mam. The crowds (certainly in Asia where it has been ridiculously over-hyped) are thrilled by it at the moment. But 20-over cricket will almost certainly have its lifespan. Six sixes in an over will suddenly become the norm - and where's the fun in all that? Where's the novelty factor? It will have worn off soon.
Cricket has a beautiful thing in terms of Test cricket. There is nothing wrong with it. The authorities need to believe that. It may need to be better marketed and all that. But they should not try to change a game that has worked well for hundreds of year just because its hyperactive little brother has been born.
There is absolutely no need for pink balls or floodlights. Respect the traditions or the game will lose its self-respect.
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