New ball keeps Test cricket in pink of health

ADELAIDE • It was a moment only Test cricket could have delivered, yet in 138 years it had never done so quite like this.

A carnival atmosphere reigned during the tail end of the New Zealand innings yesterday - with the floodlights on, wickets falling and most of the 47,441 fans baying for Kiwi wickets at the Adelaide Oval.

It was more akin to a Twenty20 match than the more genteel long form of the game.

It appeared this day-night Test, the first in history, was a limited-overs contest in everything but name. But then, as the last New Zealand wicket fell, all out for 202, to bring on the change of innings, there was also a sudden and profound change in atmosphere.

With almost cinematic timing, the Australian openers strode out onto the ground accompanied by the rays of Test cricket's first-ever sunset peeking through the majestic sails of the Chappell Stand, bathing the ground in golden light.


Australia batsman Adam Voges playing a shot against New Zealand during the first day-night cricket Test match at the Adelaide Oval. After the first day, players, commentators and fans have given the pink ball the thumbs up. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A contemplative hush gradually descended upon the crowd. And, as the Australian pair attempted to get their eyes in on this vibrant pink ball - another first for Test cricket - set against an increasingly pink sky, a glorious few minutes of nothing took place.

Then, suddenly, David Warner lost his wicket, and the crowd was unceremoniously jolted back to reality. The aesthetics of cricket may sometimes distract, but the game is still first and foremost a contest to be won, no matter how spectacular the sky above.

The Australians lost one more wicket during their time in the middle to end on 54-2 for the first day, but unquestionably the day was theirs, which helped no doubt in securing a general consensus out in the stands and in the commentary box that this day-night Test business is a winner.

Dylan Thompson, 38, a New Zealander who had watched the new concept unfold, admitted that he wanted to blame the controversial pink ball for his side's woes.

"Really, though, it's held up better than the red ball, and coming from a viewer's point of view it is amazing - you can see it from all over the ground," he said.

Yagnesh Nagarajan, 28, an Indian living in Adelaide, said being able to enter the ground on a twilight ticket for the final two sessions was ideal and further day-night Tests would "definitely" see him come along more often.

"I finished at 5pm and work in the city, so I just came in, it's a brilliant idea," he said.

From the players' point of view, "it was a great day", said Australian paceman Peter Siddle. "Everyone who came and witnessed will be very impressed with the whole experience."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2015, with the headline 'New ball keeps Test cricket in pink of health'. Print Edition | Subscribe