Is this the future of test cricket?

Day/night tests – only the second for England but more for Australia – is this the future?

Why Adelaide? Other than having a sports mad population (but then isn’t all of Australia sports mad) it’s about timing and meeting the needs of TV contracts and viewing figures…as there are no highlights programmes on any TV channel so if you’ve missed watching the live broadcast then you’re left with 2 minutes on a news programme. Timing in cricket is as we know important so this now extends to broadcasting! The first test at the Gabba will always gain a good audience as it’s the first match of the series; make Adelaide a day/night affair and the 3rd in Perth (some hours behind the population centres of the east) and you have late afternoon/evening TV schedules and viewing figures sorted! Melbourne and Sydney fall in the holiday season so viewers should be glued to their sets at that stage (assuming the series is still worth watching).

Or is that too cynical a view from Australia? Well, Day night tests are novel, innovative and an approach from the authorities changing to meet the needs of the target live spectating audiences. But will it revive test cricket where audiences are sparse and declining or has the focus of the game changed in line with the rest of society into ‘quick fix’ and ‘instant’ needs being satisfied. Has T20 got too much of a foothold already for test cricket to be able to get back some/all of the audiences it has lost? At the moment it’s too early to tell.

So, to the test itself…Australia are unchanged while England drop Ball and bring in Overton for his debut. The pitch looks on the dry side so has been well protected from the recent rain. Weather is cool and windy and even more so when five floors up looking down on the players as ants. England won the toss and inserted Australia on the basis of ‘what we do best!’ – there is some logic but everything has been pitched on scuttling out the opposition for next to nothing- we shall see! Forecast for the tea break (20 mins after two hours play) Australia 2/80.

hmmm…as they go off for rain, Anderson out of sorts…shoulder injury playing up perhaps but looks lethargic. Broad bowling too short ie not full enough Woakes ok. Why the field to Warner to let him score a single on the off side at will?

Tactics/strategy are not clear and any decision to field would surely have not been Roots alone it’s almost a case of why are we fielding and putting ourselves immediately behind the eight ball? Danger is that we bowl Aussies out quickly and we are batting under lights before we know it! So far Roots got it wrong! Team in defensive mode already and we’ve only had 13 or so overs? Two rain breaks but showers only. At 0/33 these two added over 200 in two innings for no one out!

We have reached the time when tea would be over (but we haven’t had the long 40 min break yet we call lunch or for day/nights ‘dinner’), it seems that tea has been taken and we have lost an hour so far with Australia 0/33. No forecast as yet since no idea when play will resume.

Play to restart with 75 mins to the long break – forecast 2/80 Australia

The long break is still 75 mins away as it reaches 5.55pm and drinks with Australia 1/85. It’s been 82 overs and 255 runs since a bowler last took a wicket. Since the rain break England have been better but still behind where they want to be. To justify the decision at the toss, we must take all 10 wickets today and it’s been 82 overs…you know what comes next. Forecast at the long break 2/140.

Guess what? As soon as I wrote that Warner edged Woakes to Bairstow for a fine 47. Broad tried to have a ‘handbag’ session with Smith all started by the laughter at the head banging press conference; the umpires intervened and Broad is now safely back in his playpen acting his age!

The crowd – a supposed sell out of 50,000 but loads of empty seats (bars and food areas are prospering) – is the largest first day crowd since the Bodyline rest of 1932/33 – more history for me to be a part of!

Day night tests by the way need warm weather – I am freezing and it’s not even 7pm yet and the sun’s still up!

At the long break Australia 2/137. Khawaja 53, Smith 25. Not what England intended when the toss was won…or was it? Defensive play to a large degree and an improvement since the rain break but not the penetration or dominance expected; whilst it’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas it’s also beginning to look a bit like a tour too far for Jimmy but am more than happy to be proved wrong. Overton looked sharp with nice aggression but he has psychological issues to manage as well as a burgeoning test career – he will require sensitive management.

Roots captaincy is coming in for media criticism – pundits are saying his batsmen specific fields are plans B and C and he should keep to the orthodox for plan A; I say let him be, innovation is to be encouraged and not regarded as a joke as some pundits claim.

One orthodox approach it is nice to see is a traditional scoreboard here at the Adelaide Oval – manually operated and more numbers than you can shake a stick at, it’s great but you do need to concentrate and study it!

The first night session is looming and given the April evening in England temperatures I suspect a large number of spectators will leave before the possible close at 1030pm. There are 32 overs to go and knowing England’s poor over rate 1030 I’m sure it will be – and they want to lengthen each playing day in four day tests! Well I’ll invite any administrator to come and sit in these temperatures for even longer!

Forecast for the close of play Australia 5/235.

Close 4/209 – extremely cold, too cold to be regarded as even English conditions! Ok perhaps the snow in the Peak District in June was as cold but not conducive to day/night test cricket! The twilight zone/hour is so biased in favour of the batting side someone will start tinkering with the regulations before much longer- this could be the future but only if the weather/climate suits!

As for the match-England’s second line quicks were better here than at the Gabba, Anderson is a cause for concern; Australia handily placed to go on to score big and fast tomorrow- declaring in excess of 400 just before the twilight hour and then rip into England in the last session? Decision to insert was wrong as invariably it always is and England needed to close Australia down today with a minimum of 8 wickets- a long way to go!

a few photos of the day and apologies for the scoreboard- check the ‘sundries’ section, I assume it means one run was scored or it’s an Aussie welcome?

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