Azhar Ali has been one of the best batsmen in Test cricket in recent times and he was en route to another century at the MCG on Tuesday.
At the non-striker’s end, batting on 93, Ali had to dive back into his crease as a straight drive from team-mate Asad Shafiq flicked bowler Jackson Bird’s hand before hitting the stumps.
The replays showed that Ali was comfortably home and while it was an easy decision to make, there were some nervous moments for the Pakistan opener as third umpire Richard Illingworth pressed the wrong button and ‘OUT’ was displayed on the big screen.
On field umpire S.Ravi, though, was quick to point out to the players that it was a mistake. The error was quickly rectified and the words ‘NOT OUT’ appeared much to the delight of Ali and Pakistan’s supporters.
The 31-year-old would go on to notch up his 12th Test century and ended day two unbeaten on 139 as rain forced an early close again with Pakistan on 310/6 in their first innings.
Is day-night Test cricket still the way forward for the game’s oldest and most prestigious format?
It is certainly a topic that divides opinion.
That’s why we got two of our cricket experts on the case!
What’s your view?
Let us know!
Ajit Vijaykumar, Deputy News Editor, says YES
I am a fan of day-night Tests and despite players like Mitchell Johnson saying they don’t think it is ‘real’ Test cricket, I believe it is the way forward.
As a concept, pink ball cricket still makes a lot of sense. If you move outside Australia and England, Test cricket is struggling to attract crowds and something had to be done to spark life into the format. No doubt the Ashes continues to be played in front of packed venues but for Test cricket to be in good health in all countries, a dramatic new step had to be taken and pink ball cricket is that move.
Fans who have grown accustomed to the slam bang version of T20 cricket needed to be given something equally appealing and dazzling, which I believe is being done by day-night Tests. When games are played during evenings there is a much higher chance of fans viewing it on TV after finishing their work, and also going to the stadium and catching up on a session or two.
The last such match – between Australia and Pakistan – was a remarkable contest with the subcontinent team nearly pulling off one of the highest ever run chases in Test history. That it materialised under lights just added to the drama. No wonder the venue – Gabba – witnessed a record attendance for a non-Ashes Test.
Does it have its flaws? Yes it does. But I feel they are a necessary inconvenience, as I have said before. Instead of only looking at the issues which have cropped up, like fast bowlers dominating matches on wickets with extra bit of grass, fans, players and administrators should look at it as a great experiment which can improve the health of the game significantly.
Pink ball Tests is a concept every Test playing team should try out regularly and in different conditions. If some problems arise which undermine the contest, we can have a relook. But until that time, we should support this endeavour and enjoy what is a thoroughly entertaining part of the game.
Joy Chakravarty, Regional Editor, says NO
I am all for pyjama cricket, and all kinds of quirky innovations that are linked to the ODI and Twenty20 formats, but the purist, and the romanticist, in me is unable to come to terms with the pink-ball Test cricket yet.
My reasoning is simple – cricket authorities are trying to fix something that isn’t broke. Test cricket has its traditional fan base, and it is not going to add substantially to the numbers of passionate followers by changing the timing. However, the chances of it going the other way is high, once the novelty value of day-night Test matches wear off.
Of course, everyone wants to grow the game, and Twenty20 is the perfect vehicle for that. The biggest reason the public have embraced the format is because it’s done and dusted in three hours and produces immense drama and a result. Very few repeat fans, ‘repeat’ being the key word, go to a T20 match because of the loud music, dance and the party atmosphere.
Also, I am not convinced that day-night Tests is what the television channels would want in the long term.
It may help draw a few extra fans to the ground, but given that the timings will coincide with prime time viewing, the broadcasting channels are going to lose eyeballs to soap operas and more established programmes. The crowd that Test matches get in countries like England and Australia – and based on the recent India v England experience, especially in the Mumbai and Chennai Test – clearly show that there is still a massive appetite for the most traditional form of the game.
And then there is the example of what happened in Dubai when the Pakistan v West Indies match was played under lights. The attendance at the stadium was hardly any better at night than what it gets during day matches. The future of Test cricket is in ensuring that the 140-year-old format remains meaningful to the fans and players – and just changing the time is definitely not the best answer.
In the final Talking Cricket podcast of 2016, host Barnaby Read is joined by Ajit Vijaykumar and Joy Chakravarty.
The Sport360 trio discuss the year that was in 2016, from the World T20 through Pakistan’s rise to number one Test team in the world and India’s eventual dominance.
As well as that, the team pick their players of the year and some personal highlights in 2016.
Focus then quickly turns to 2017, what the year may hold for cricket as a whole, the Champions Trophy and the Ashes at the end of the year.
You can listen to all this and more, in the podcast below.
Enjoy and a bug thank you from all the team for listening this year. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us all at Talking Cricket.