Adelaide scares the shit out of me. Being the unofficial mecca of serial killers, you can probably understand why. It doesn’t usually scare too many test batsmen however.
Known as much for being a ‘road,’ as it is for depraved acts of violence, batsmen must see a trip to Adelaide Oval as a great chance to boost the average. Who cares if the game peters out into a draw? Cricket is an individual game, after all.
But this week you can sense a nervousness in the air from batsmen from both sides of the ditch. In fact, it is probably fair to say everyone apart from the bowlers are positively shitting themselves: the coaches, Cricket Australia, Kookaburra. Will I be able to see it? Will the crowds turn up? Will the ball completely fall apart in the thirtieth over?
The bowlers, on the other hand, are likely salivating at the prospect of hurling a few down at nervous batsmen swatting at shadows. Fuck, even Nathan Lyon sounded cocky this week.
But why are we all so scared? Why do we suddenly care if the fieldsman square of the wicket mightn’t get a good scope on the ball between 5pm and 5.45pm? Since when have punters appreciated good visibility square of the wicket?
Does the fear mongering about the pink ball say more about Australia’s inherent fear of anything new or different? In a way, the pink ball is a little like ‘the boat people.’
The reality is, come 8pm on Friday night and 3 beers in, we will all like day/night test cricket and our new neighbour, Ahmed. Really like them. We will wonder why we ever erred.
And the ball is the same for both sides, so equality is not an issue. It does seem incredibly odd that the colour of a ball somehow gives it different behavioural properties, as though the fundamental material of the red ball is not possible in pink, but I have no idea how cricket balls are made and quite frankly, I don’t want to. I know enough useless shit already.
As a fan, I am looking forward to the game. I’ve always enjoyed being able to watch WACA tests in prime time. Coming home from work and zoning out on the couch to a session of Test cricket is pure bliss. It doesn’t bother me too much if the players feel less comfortable. It adds a new dimension to the contest which, if it’s the same for both sides, isn’t fundamentally unfair.
And if it plays out like a usual Adelaide Test and comes down to a tense final session, I will be fucking ecstatic.
The general consensus is that it won’t though. People are talking about declaring after sixty overs! I can’t see it happening, but it has definitely brought an excitement to a summer that would otherwise be as relevant as Amanda Vanstone.
New Zealand have done nothing but brought the game into disrepute with their nice guy attitudes. They have successfully sucked all the rivalry and interest out of an otherwise competitive series. Well done.
The West Indies, on the other hand, might come full of fire, but given they are completely shithouse it’s difficult to get too excited.
While I am a traditionalist in many things, especially when it comes to sport, there is nothing wrong with a bit of experimentation every now and then. Like an exploratory finger, you won’t know if it’s worth your while unless you try it.
But if it doesn’t work, you can’t just keep jamming it up there in the hope you will eventually enjoy it, because you won’t. You will only get used to it and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
By Alasdair McClintock with Sam Perry