First ‘Day-night’ Test is a Roaring Success

AUSTRALIA have made cricketing history once again in the past week by winning the first ever day-night test match against local rivals New Zealand in Adelaide. In what turned out to be a low-scoring affair, the pivotal talking point wasn’t regarding the light, the change of conditions or even the new pink ball, but a controversial decision regarding another relatively new advance in the sport, the Decision Review System (DRS). 

After winning the toss and deciding to bat, Brendon McCullum’s New Zealand struggled to make any significant scores as opener Tom Latham was the only player to make a 50. Australia took control as they bowled their guests out for a poor 202. However, New Zealand looked to be fighting back valiantly as they reduced Australia to 116-8, despite a 50 from Captain Steve Smith. At this moment, spinner Nathan Lyon joined Peter Nevill at the crease, knowing their side was in serious trouble already. The crucial moment occurred as a Mitchell Santner delivery appeared to find Lyon’s edge and found its way to Ross Taylor at slip. The decision was given not out but instantly reviewed by McCullum using DRS, which indicated a faint mark on Hot Spot on Lyon’s bat as the ball passed. Lyon, seemingly accepting his fate, started to walk off the field before the 3rd umpire, Nigel Llong, decided the evidence was inconclusive and gave him not out. Lyon and Nevill went on to share a partnership of 74 as Australia forced their way back in to the match, eventually bowled out for 224.

Image: RSN

New Zealand once again struggled in their second innings as Josh Hazlewood got the ball to swing and seam to take career-best figures of 6-70 as they were dismissed for 208, setting the hosts 187 to win. Despite the low target, Trent Boult gave the Black Caps hope as he responded with a 5- himself. However, it proved to be in vain as Australia reached the target with three wickets to spare and take the series 2-0.

It is extremely noteworthy that the major talking point of this momentous match in the history of cricket is regarding a system that has been used since 2009. The proposal of day-night tests had been divisive amongst many past cricketing greats before the match, with the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Sachin Tendulkar and Michael Holding all openly opposing the idea but Martin Crowe, Geoffrey Boycott and others backing it. It has to be said, albeit initially, that the pink ball and day-night experiment was a success. Concerns surrounding the durability of the pink ball and its retention of colour disappeared early on day one whilst the crowd attendance averaged over 40,000 for each day, an incredible attendance for test cricket even in cricket-adoring Adelaide. The match also saw vast increases in TV audiences and all the players involved seemed more than happy with how the match progressed with McCullum stating that day-night cricket is “a great concept” and “[it’s] here to stay”.

For every new advancement or innovation in a sport surrounded by tradition and heritage, there will always be cynics and sceptics. But for a sport that has been playing day-night one day internationals since 1971, and after the early successes of this match, there are definitely, and rightly so, calls for more day-night test matches to be played in the near future.

Matt Norman 

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