Pristine white flannels, glistening bats, bright yellow stumps and a pink ball — after years of being ‘boring’, cricket went metro-sexual at Adelaide Oval. From today, pink is the new red.
I switched on the TV set with a degree of non-approval. The purist in me didn’t like the idea of tinkering with the Test match format. However, the fan in me looked forward with hope.
It started as expected. The toss happened, the teams got on with it and till about five in the evening nothing extra-ordinary happened. The pink ball looked a touch unfamiliar but it stuck to normalcy — it swung, it bounced, New Zealand had a mini collapse and Nathan Lyon got a couple to turn.
I tried hard to concentrate on the game but for the first time, I was more interested in the light towers rather than the turf. When will the lights come on? — the question kept me on the edge.
They came on and brightness gave way to contrast. The pink pomegranate (can’t call it a cherry anymore, can we?) was still swinging but the grandeur of the occasion multiplied manifolds. It was fantasy cricket in motion and you know what, it was fantastic. The Kiwis faded away in the twilight but the game brightened as the lights went full throttle. 12-wickets fell in the day. Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc bowled beautifully, Peter Siddle got his 200th wicket, Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell looked sharp.
But nothing mattered.
Honestly, I was not even concerned about the state of the game, my eyes were stuck to the pink ball. Starc opened up Santner, I saw the ball. Southee spanked a six over wide long on, I saw the ball. Someone in the stands caught it with a perfect reverse cup, I saw the ball. David Warner’s edge flew to third slip, I saw the ball.
So did the 47,000 present at Adelaide. History was unfolding and we bore witness to it. If you missed it, make a date with Test cricket tomorrow but then, you have missed the first-day-first-show goosebumps.
There was much apprehension around and every ounce of worry was about the five and a half ounce sphere — will it swing? Will it turn? Will it go out of shape? Will it lose its colour? — questions flooded the minds of every cricket fan.
It swung. It turned. It didn’t go out of shape and it certainly didn’t lose its colour. At the end of Day 1, the pink ball has answered most of the queries. The fate of day-night Tests looks pink because finally, cricket’s got a major facelift. Over the last few decades, the game has seen a lot — the fifty-over entree, the twenty-over dessert, super-subs, powerplays, cheerleaders, DRS. However, a Test match under lights looks like the perfect makeover that can revolutionise the sport.
It can because it’s cricket in high definition. It can because it’s pink. It can because it’s pretty.
The purists may not approve of it but like it or not, it’s here to stay. I am definitely in. BCCI should be rubbing their palms at this opportunity. It’s a blockbuster in the making and that means serious money. Whatever may be the motivation, BCCI should get a Test match under the lights in India, ASAP.
The last Friday of November will be marked as ‘one-of-those’ days in cricket. India thwarted South Africa’s nine-year long march, Ravichandran Ashwin elevated himself to the next level, teary eyes remembered Phil Hughes but above all, the dusk of 27th November ushered a new dawn for Test cricket.
Kerry Packer was right, after all.