Australian cricket’s new jewel is already under threat as South African players refusing to play a day-night Test in Adelaide this summer.
The reluctance is now causing massive headaches for Cricket Australia because they were planning to unveil the fixtures for the Test tours of Pakistan and South Africa tomorrow.
Interestingly last year’s inaugural day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand was seen as a resounding success for record television ratings and attendances.
But there were relative concerns that the pink ball was really difficult to see at night and a green top pitch to protect the ball ultimately caused the game to be ended inside three days.
The majority of Australian and New Zealand players later complained about the ball, its visibility, and the changed conditions.
Now latest reports claim back in May, South African senior players spoke directly to the Australians when they were there for a T20 series to know about their feedback first-hand.
Cricket Australia though had a special plan and they reworked the fixture for this summer to include two day-night Tests despite the increasing concern among the players.
The three-matchTest series against South Africa will start in Perth; not in traditional Brisbane. The second test to be held in Hobart and the series was to end with the exciting day-nighter in Adelaide.
The second half of the summer was scheduled to start with a day-night test in Brisbane against Pakistan and that match is believed to be played along with the traditional Boxing Day (MCG) and New Year (SCG) Tests.
South African players’ reluctance to play the day-night test is due to their argument that they have no such experience with a pink ball or a five-day game under those adverse conditions and thus, will have to play with a disadvantage in an important series like this.
Their stand-off is even being backed by their players’ association and board.
Australian players have already played last year’s Test and several Sheffield Shield games with the pink ball under lights and are expected to have further exposure before the Adelaide test.
“Our players are not in favour of playing the game under those conditions,” South African players’ association chief executive Tony Irish told in an interview.
“The main reason is we feel disadvantaged. Not one of our players who will compete in that Test has played Test match cricket or any cricket with a pink ball.”
However, Cricket Australia wanted to offer the South African squad an opportunity to play a day-night tour game to adapt to the unknown conditions, but this hasn’t convinced the visitors.
“The reluctance to play is a sign of how much importance the South African players place on the series against Australia,” Irish further said.
New Zealand had raised similar concerns last year but they eventually agreed to play in the inaugural day-night Test when Cricket Australia offered a $1m prize pool to be split 60:40 between the winners and losers.
It is believed that the South Africans will also argue a precedent has been set and will demand similar compensation — which will also suggest another windfall for the Australians who managed $600,000 for winning the 2015-16 series.