Cricket: Sheffield Shield and the Pink Ball experiment

Cricket Australia’s experiment of day/night first class cricket kicks off today in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane amid much fan fare and with the ultimate goal of holding a day/night test match in 2015/16.

The minutae of how day/night fight class will work includes:

  • The use of pink kookaburra balls.
  • Black sightscreens will be used.
  • Clothing will still be white.
  • Play will commence (Brisbane time) at 1:30pm with the usual game conditions to apply: 2 hour sessions, 40 minutes for lunch and 20 minutes for tea.
  • Play is scheduled to finish at 8:30pm with a possible extra 30 minutes available to finish the allotment of overs.

When I originally heard of day/night first class cricket I confess my first thoughts were significantly negative.  I saw it as solely a money grab but I now see the following benefits:

  • It makes cricket at a first class level more accessible to those who work, allowing those fans to attend a game they otherwise wouldn’t have.
  • Cricket, at test match level, could, if this trial is successful, be played in prime time which opens the game (again at test level) to a broader audience.
  • If cricket in the long form of the game does not innovate it will die a withering death: the crowds in the first and second test matches in South Africa are indicative of said indicative of said withering death.

It goes without saying that traditionalists, of which I am one, are not going to be massively enamoured with this change straight out of the gate. Equally, if Cricket Australia listens to feedback received and also refrains from making the day/night first class games too much like T20 games I believe this can be a move for the betterment of the game.

If I had to be negative about this trial, the thing I am disappointed in is the timing of the games. A Monday kick off to these fixtures means they will end on Thursday. If the ideology behind the day/night games was to get more fans in the gates then surely at least one day of the games had to be on the weekend.

I, for one, would love to attend the game at the Gabba and I work some 5 minutes from the ground but I am unlikely to attend because at the end of my working day (which is most often at around the start of the 3rd session) all I want to do is go home. A night of cricket on Friday / Saturday would have seen me there with bells on.

All in all today presents an opening of a door into, possibly, the future of first class cricket in Australia. It is also the penultimate round in the Sheffield Shield with a number of teams still chasing a spot in the finals. It will be exciting to see what happens!

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