Day and Night Test matches. Pink ball cricket. A post-punk fantasy that Kerry Packer would have been proud of. Surprisingly, the hitherto archaic ICC, often self-serving to the exclusion of the game's prosperity, is willing to risk age-old tradition in a fresh salvo to stir the Victorian sport out of its commercial rut. The response so far has been of bubbling anticipation tempered by a curiosity to witness how definitive facets of the five day game, such as the lunch break, are accommodated or adjusted to fit into night-time cricket's schema.
The Adelaide Oval will be guaranteed at least two days of sold out crowds. The TV watching viewer will fawn at the atmospheric qualities of a full cricket ground, bursting with passion and a mild degree of bewilderment, not to forget the numerous 'I was there' chest thumps or the head splitting banter of the Channel 9 cast.
And yet in spite of the hard-sell and the equally enthusiastic public response, the variables of the actual game-that of batting and bowling- will determine the success/failure of this experiment; which is how it should be.
Personally, I am quite excited by the prospect of the first pink ball day and night Test, and my only concern is rather trivial. It is the head-splitting banter cum chest thump of the devolved species that is the Channel 9 commentary crew, or the Reunion gang, as I prefer to call them, and the modern Adelaide Oval. I'd rather a mild-mannered David Gower elegantly usher us into this new semi-unknown, or in my case, the unknown, along with the astute Michael Atherton and jovial David Lloyd.
Not that those on Sky have completely disengaged from banter-Nasser Hussain seems to be always picked on- but they are more civil, less prone to reminiscence on their own careers. No 'Howdy, Heals', or 'Good on ya Tubs' to intermittently break through the actual cricket. It would have been an epochal moment (not that it isn’t anyway) had Richie Benaud been alive. His warm, gravelly 'Afternoon, everyone' instead of the customary, 'Morning, everyone' would reassure all critics who look upon this incarnation of cricket as sacrilege, one tinker with tradition too many.
This brings me quite smoothly to the venue itself, the modern Adelaide Oval. Once a charming ground, vastly different from its cavernous Australian counterparts, the old Oval would have provided the most symbolic backdrop to Day and Night Test cricket. The red roof of the grand stand and the member's enclosure, the colour-coordinated benches, the seagulls flocking at the outfield all offered an overall sense of unhurriedness, so quaint in its aesthetics, it would dilute the shocks, if any, of watching something so postmodern, almost punk-ish.
But Heals, Tubs and crass banter coupled with the dystopian Adelaide Oval are all that we have and so be it. Fortunately, a sentimental cricket watcher has imagination and delusion in abundance, and somewhere in the depths of my being, the shock of white hair will deafen the noise of the Channel 9 microphones, and the actual cricket, hopefully engrossing, will dull the blows of architectural assault.
Good on ya mate!