DUBAI: The president of cricket’s governing body Sunday hailed the concept of day-night Test matches, days before Australia play New Zealand in the first-ever such match.
Zaheer Abbas, president of the International Cricket Council (ICC), said he sees the idea of such matches as “thoroughly enlightened”.
“The sceptics and critics might call it a leap in the dark but I prefer to view the decision to play day-night Test cricket — a concept set to become reality when Australia plays New Zealand in Adelaide — as thoroughly enlightened,” Abbas wrote in his column for the ICC website.
The innovation is intended to attract more spectators. Abbas, himself a former Pakistani batting great, said he had a good experience of day-night matches when he played for Australian tycoon Kerry Packer in the 1970s.
“I speak from experience, as one of a group who you could call floodlit cricket pioneers. I was one of the players signed up by Kerry Packer to be part of World Series Cricket in 1977 and it was through my involvement that I was exposed to day-night matches for the first time,” wrote Abbas.
Abbas said it “seems remarkable that it has taken 38 years for our great sport to move from that point to one where we are now looking forward to our first Test under lights.
“But although it has taken some time to get here, as far as I am concerned it is a common-sense decision.”
Abbas said players must be thankful to Packer’s one-day innovations, with players in coloured clothing competing under floodlights.
“Packer saw that cricket at the top level is a profession and that the best players should be paid accordingly. Players ever since, now wealthy through playing the game, can give thanks to him for that view.”
The fact that the Adelaide Test starting Friday will be the series decider — after Australia won the first Test in Brisbane while the second at Perth was drawn — will add to its attraction.
Abbas believes day-night Tests can give the public, whether working people or schoolchildren, the chance to watch or listen to the game at a time that suits them.
“Ultimately it is all about maintaining the relevance of Test cricket, a format I was brought up on and one I continue to cherish.”
Abbas said success for day-night Tests would not usher in wholesale changes.
“To even hint at that is mischievous and misleading. After all, day-night Test cricket would not suit all countries or all conditions.”