Day/Night Test cricket proved it is a worthwhile investment in Adelaide this week. Fans were treated to another enthralling Ashes Test but had it not been for the night time conditions it could have been over a whole lot quicker.
Steve Smith would have been extremely pleased with his side’s efforts in the first innings. Bowling England out for 227 after racking up 442-8 declared is the kind of situation Australia thrive off, especially in their home conditions. On numerous occasions, we have seen David Warner storm out of the blocks and pummel the opposition into the ground. However, due to the twilight conditions, England were able to find a way back into the match through their excellent use of the swinging ball.
The Australian captain may have thought twice about not enforcing the follow-on after his side were 51-4 at the close on the fourth day. England, however, were buoyed by their late scalps and were able to take that momentum into the following afternoon where they bowled the hosts out for 138. Had this been a day Test match, the match could have been virtually over at the same stage.
The twilight conditions provided a fascinating element to this Test. It gave Steve Smith something else to consider when pondering whether to enforce the follow on. As it turned out he didn’t appear to ponder the decision at all; not even to the extent of asking the opinion of his fast bowlers on the matter.
It is a well-known fact that the Australians almost never enforce the follow-on since VVS Laxman’s heroics in 2003 and the tactic of running their opposition ragged plays into their aggressive playing nature. But perhaps when the Australian captain, or any captain for that matter, is faced with the same decision in the future, they will give the twilight conditions more respect when considering the wider match situation.
Faf Du Plessis innovation:
South Africa’s Test captain, Faf Du Plessis, showed the required innovation for Test cricket last year at the very same venue. His side were 259-9 when he declared to make Australia bat under lights. Again, had this been a day Test, Du Plessis would have continued batting in order to make as many runs as possible. But the increased likelihood of picking up wickets under lights persuaded Du Plessis to have a bowl. Perhaps Smith should have remembered Du Plessis’ decision as he was his opposite number in that match – although the Australians didn’t lose a wicket in that period under that lights.
Day/Night cricket provided a much-needed innovation to Test cricket in this match and with a match attendance of just under 200,000, it showed it is well supported by the cricketing population.