Test cricket is perhaps the most dreaded form of cricket that young minds want to see. This is the era of franchise cricket like the IPL, which is a t20 cricket tournament. t20 cricket has gained so much momentum that the original form of cricket, the Test cricket is slowly but steadily forgotten by the young generation. In these days, people hardly have time to watch cricket all day, but still, people are able to get quite a lot of time to watch back-to-back IPL matches or franchise football matches.
Hence it can be said that test cricket only needs more attention from the fans of cricket. Many true cricket lovers know the importance of test cricket, but they form a tiny fraction of the cricket fans. To make test cricket more attractive, we need something out of the box. And that is just what ICC have been looking for.
One of the best moves by ICC towards test cricket in modern times is the introduction of day and night test matches. Of course, allowing some non-test playing nations like Ireland and Afghanistan for playing test cricket no doubt raises popularity of test cricket in those nations. However, day and night test or the pink ball test cricket has changed the way people has so far viewed test cricket.
27th November 2015 marked the beginning of the first day and night test match between Australia and New Zealand, played at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia. It was played with a pink ball, as the red ball, traditionally used for test cricket is not visible clearly under the lights at night. Also, the break timings were changed and there is a 20 min tea-break followed by a 40 min dinner-break.
More than the day and night version of test cricket, the pink ball was the star attraction of the test match, and hence, day-night test matches were more often nicknamed pink-ball tests. The pink ball attracted a huge crowd to the first day-night tests and continued to attract more people to date. Pink balls were manufactured almost overnight after the declaration of a test match to be day and night.
In the India-Bangladesh pink-ball test, for the first time, hand-sewn SC balls were manufactured by the SC factory, the supplier of test cricket balls in India, in an unbelievably short time as it was decided much later that the test match is to be day and night. It was the first time hand-made pink balls were used instead of machine-made Kookaburra balls. Now every country wants to host one of the tour matches as a day-night test. Attendance has been seen to shoot up by a huge margin at the day-night tests.
The main success of pink ball tests is due to publicity. Whenever something new turns up, everyone, including less interested ones, becomes interested to know about the new thing which is getting so much publicity. Test cricket has been one of them. Big stadiums, like Adelaide Oval, Eden Gardens, have been packed by the spectators turning up from nearby as well as far-off places to witness what is been depicted as a historic event.
Apart from publicity, non-cricket lovers are drawn by the presence of cultural programmes, presence of eminent personalities, short documentations, to make the advent of a new era of test cricket. No doubt pink ball test is historic, but what is more historic about it is the popularity among the young generation, who mostly loves t20 cricket.
Over time, we have seen so many great test matches being played and also matches between arch-rivals. That is why, even today, we find so many keen and regular watchers of test cricket. The only thing that needs to be changed is the mindset of the young generation, who thinks that test cricket is a slow-paced game where draw is usually the outcome after 5 days of play. Drawing a test match is as interesting as winning it, will be embraced by the young generation once they regularly see test matches, the true test of who is the better player.
Written by – Himadri Paul