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England tour of India

Brief history of Day-Night cricket matches

India did not host a pink-ball Test match before 2019/20. This was surprising, for the 1996/97 Ranji Trophy final, between Delhi and Bombay at Gwalior, had been played with a white ball under lights.

Cricket took longer than most sports to embrace floodlights. Two reasons can be cited for this. First, in England, cricket is played in summer, when the days are long. They did not require cricket to be played after sunset. And secondly, cricket was played in a multi-day format, which meant that the same conditions needed to be replicated day after day. India in day-night Tests

The first ‘important’ floodlit cricket match was Jack Young’s benefit match in 1951, played at the Arsenal Stadium between Arsenal Football Club and Middlesex County Cricket Club. Over a million people watched the match live on BBC, but the idea did not catch on. Key facts about Motera Stadium

It returned in the late 1970s. Like many other novelties, this, too, was a Kerry Packer brainchild. By 1978, he had converted floodlit One-Day cricket to a spectacle, the kind of which the world had never seen before. On 27 November 1979, Australia hosted West Indies for the first ever ODI, at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Despite its popularity, the idea took time to catch on. It took six years for another ground to host international cricket under lights. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi had hosted parts of the 1982 Asian Games, but it was not a cricket ground. There were running tracks on the outfield, but exhibition matches were still played there. Then, in 1984/85, it hosted an ODI between India and Australia.

The success of the 1992 World Cup made day-night cricket popular. England, the most reluctant of the nations (the long hours meant that only about an hour was played under lights), had hosted only one match under lights for a long time – between Essex and the West Indians at Stamford Bridge in 1980. Now even they j0ined in.

By the early 2000s, even limited-overs matches played entirely during day hours had stopped using coloured clothing or a red ball. And when T20 cricket arrived, matches could begin after sunset. Now arose the question: what about cricket across multiple days?

But there was a problem. The white ball used in limited-overs cricket typically failed to retain its colour after the 35th over, which meant that they had to come up with a solution. They decided on a pink ball. From 15 January 2010,  the first pink-ball First-Class match in history was played, between Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago at North Sound. The first Test match – between Australia and New Zealand at Adelaide – began on 27 November 2015.

India were late to take to the concept. They did not host a pink-ball Test match before 2019/20. This was surprising, for the 1996/97 Ranji Trophy final, between Delhi and Bombay at Gwalior, had been played with a white ball under lights.

Cricket history and numbers aficionado, Co-author, Sachin and Azhar at Cape Town and the senior editor of CricketNews.com. Abhishek brings a wealth of experience to the team with a career stretching over two decades.

CricketNews.com Partnership

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