The Proteas have made the right decision in opting against the day-night Test against Australia.
It’s ludicrous that the Proteas have been put in a position to play a day-night Test in the third and final match against Australia at the end of the year.
This is a process that needs to be done slowly. The conditions vary far too differently to a normal Test to allow into any international schedule, let alone a potential series-deciding clash. South Africa have never used a pink ball before, whereas Australia have had the benefit of playing with it before, in a match that required just three days to thrash New Zealand last year.
If we had a few warm-up games to get used to it, then it might be more of a possibility, but the reality is that there won’t be, while Australia have trialed it in their first-class games, so the experience is already there. This is besides the point, though. Test matches don’t need to be jazzed up anymore than they already are. We already have enough ‘flashy’ cricket with all the T20s that are being played.
Granted, the Test matches that have been played recently have been intriguing to watch. The Ashes was a spectacle, and Brendon McCullum’s fastest Test century against Australia was exciting to watch, but that doesn’t mean Test cricket needs to head in the direction of T20s. I’m not concerned about the future of Tests. People are still watching Test cricket in their living rooms, and people are still attending matches.
Test matches must be separated from T20 cricket altogether, and there are a number of rules that can be introduced or amended to aid that. Firstly, there has to be a fairer contest between batsman and bowler. The ball is getting hit harder and further than ever before – there has to be restrictions on the sizes of bats. My bat back in the day was half the size they usually are now. I believe the toss needs to be scrapped, too. There’s too much emphasis placed on the toss now. The County Championship’s new rule, where the visiting side can either choose to bowl first or go ahead with the toss, is a great idea; it’s encouraging for the bowlers and levels the playing field somewhat.
Dale Steyn recently said that he would love to play in a day-night Test, but then again, he is coming to the end of his career, so any international cricket that he plays from hereon is a bonus. The fact that AB de Villiers has revealed that he doesn’t agree with the day-night Test – and he even chatted to opposition captain Steve Smith about it, who has his own reservations – shows that the players themselves aren’t comfortable with the idea. It’s too much of an unknown for such an important series. Test matches shouldn’t be messed around like that – there quite simply isn’t the need to do so at the moment.
T20 cricket might be increasing in popularity, but that doesn’t mean Test cricket has reached a critical stage yet. Day-night Tests are something that can perhaps be revisited in a couple of years time. But for the time being, Test matches must remain as they are, or the day-night Test will just pave the way for more rules to be introduced to the format, before it ceases to even exist.
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