Bridgetown - West Indies join the day-night Test match
revolution on Saturday, hoping the innovation will win back legions of fans who
have turned their backs on the under-performing Caribbean side.
The third Test of the series against Sri Lanka at Kensington
Oval in Barbados will be the 10th day-night affair since it debuted in 2015
when Australia hosted New Zealand in Adelaide.
Since that time, three more day-night Tests have been staged
in Australia, two in Dubai, in an effort to entice expatriate workers to watch
Pakistan, and one each in England, South Africa and New Zealand.
West Indies lead the series against Sri Lanka 1-0 but the
first two matches in Trinidad and St Lucia were very poorly attended.
For several prominent former West Indies cricketers, the
uniqueness of the day-night encounter presents an additional attraction to fans
who have generally been turned off the regional team, especially in the
traditional format of the competition, because of their consistently
sub-standard performances in recent years.
"I am sure that it will be viewed as a novelty by some,
and that's okay," said Jeff Dujon, wicketkeeper-batsman in the era of
incomparable West Indian dominance of the international game in the 1980s.
"Let us not forget that West Indies cricket was built
by the support of the people of the West Indies. I hope we use this occasion to
recommit to supporting our team and providing that 12th man that was so present
and meant so much in my days as a West Indies cricketer."
It is a view echoed by former fast bowler Ian Bishop.
"We in the small markets of the Caribbean have to try
these initiatives to see if they help improve the spectacle and interest in
Test cricket in the region," he observed.
"On its own, day-night cricket may not be the panacea
for all the challenges facing Test cricket, as fans also need to see success on
the field of play. But I believe this day-night Test is a significant and
worthwhile initiative to find out what works, what doesn't, and what needs
For Deryck Murray, another former wicketkeeper-batsman whose
career spanned the outstanding teams built around the leadership of the late
Frank Worrell in the 1960s and the all-conquering side led by Clive Lloyd which
lifted the first two World Cups in the latter half of the 1970s, day-night Test
cricket has been too long in coming.
"I am surprised that it has taken so long after night
cricket was first introduced in the late 1970s for us to be still
'experimenting' with day-night Tests," said Murray, a member of the West
Indies team involved in the breakaway World Series venture of Australian
television mogul Kerry Packer from 1977 to 1979.
Matches played then between the West Indies, Australia and a
World XI featured limited-over fixtures and what were known as
"Supertests," played in the same day-night format which continues to
be trialled by a number of nations.
For the past three seasons, Australia have hosted a
day-night Test at Adelaide while Dubai was where the West Indies got their
first taste of traditional cricket under lights with a pink ball against
Pakistan in October of 2016.
They were far more competitive there than in last year's
day-night Test debut in England where they were thrashed by an innings inside
three days in Birmingham.
"Day-night Tests are a useful innovation. It should be
conducive to larger attendances and may encourage families to attend outside of
work and school hours," Murray continued.
"While I don't expect the concept to bring overnight
success, I hope that the authorities will persist and make the necessary
adjustments over time to make it better for spectators."
Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal is suspended for the
match after being found guilty of ball-tampering during the second Test in St
Lucia last week.
Coincidentally, this historic day-night Test starts on the
90th anniversary of the West Indies' entry into the world of Test cricket, when
they became just the fourth nation to be granted such status and took on
England at Lord's from June 23, 1928.