A successful debut for day-night test cricket in Adelaide this week could be “outstanding” for the game and the spark needed to reinvigorate the longest format, according to New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum.
Australia and New Zealand face off at the Adelaide Oval under lights from Friday in a match that has piqued the interest of fans and cricketers across the world.
A number of the sport’s top global officials will be among a bumper crowd expected during the opening days and Cricket Australia has already sounded out Pakistan’s cricket board about holding a similar fixture next year.
Players from both teams have played practice matches under lights to get to grips with the pink ball, developed and tested for years for the purpose of day-night tests.
But in many ways, the game will be a leap into the unknown for both teams and their captains.
McCullum said he was excited by the prospect of playing in Adelaide, despite the prospect of learning tactics on the run when the floodlights turn on.
“I think people are voting with their feet,” he told reporters on Thursday of the healthy ticket sales for the match.
“They are encouraged by what the pink ball test match has to offer.
“And for us to play in front of 40,000-odd people in a test match is pretty amazing, so we’re really, really excited about it.
“Hopefully it goes off brilliantly (and) there’s no challenges, no problems.
“If we have that final session on the fifth day under lights, and a test match result is in the balance, then I think that it could be anything for test cricket.
“This could be something that is outstanding for the game moving forward.
“We will find out once the game is over, I guess, but at least we have got the opportunity to test it out and we’re relishing that opportunity.”
Players and officials acknowledge test cricket as the pinnacle of the game but have been powerless to arrest a decline in crowds in most established markets.
The current series between powerhouse India and South Africa has been poorly attended and the scant crowds at the opening matches between the hosts and New Zealand in Brisbane and Perth raised alarm bells in Australia, where test cricket remains relatively popular.
So players from other nations, including India captain Virat Kohli, have welcomed the Adelaide match as a potential watershed for the game.
Many will no doubt be glued to their television screens watching the batsmen grapple with the pink ball when the lights go on.
“I’m sure everyone’s watching,” Australia captain Steven Smith said.
“I think it’s a really exciting concept I can’t wait to get out and give it a crack.”