Australia v New Zealand – Adelaide Test, Day 3: It’s getting dark

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
– Socrates

 

New Zealand 202 (TWM Latham 50, MA Starc 3/24)
Australia 224 (PM Nevill 66, DAJ Bracewell 3/18)
New Zealand 208 (MJ Santner 45, JR Hazlewood 6/70)
Australia [target 187] 7/187 (SE Marsh 49, TA Boult 5/60)

 

In the 18th century, European society was transformed by a wave of thinking known later as The Enlightenment (in French as the Siècle des Lumières (Century of Enlightenment), and in German as the Aufklärung). People unwound themselves from religious teachings and began to question things. Groupthink was out. The scientific method was in.

 

More than that, it was questioning with a goal. The principal goals of Enlightenment thinkers were liberty, progress, reason, tolerance, and ending the abuses of the church and state. Monarchs and figures of religion were powerful influences on many, and yet, an uprising of questioning and application of logical thought experiments raised in the minds of many the prospect of a better way. The Enlightenment.

 

Down here in Australia in 2015, we’ve been riding on the coat-tails of the Enlightened for our entire European colonisation. So it comes as a shock to many to understand that the Age of Enlightenment is in fact, over. Free thinkers have been usurped by 21st century versions of monarchs and religious leaders: i.e. the rich and famous.

 

With increasing frequency we see behaviours by this new aristocracy that place them outside the realm of mainstream society. I won’t go into those here. Suffice to say, some high profile people fail to apply common laws, sense and morality to their actions. Use your imagination.

 

And now, tonight, as I watch a cracking finale to a low-scoring Test match, noteworthy for the abjectly miserable displays of batting from all bar PN Nevill, I feel us slide further away from Enlightenment. For if Enlightenment is the seeking of clarity, of understanding, the awakening to possibility, to nuance, to cause and effect, the opposite, the Endarkenment, must be the dumbing down of questions, the closing of minds, the regurgitation of dogma, the concentration of power in an unrepresentative few, whose opinions are spouted fervently in the absence of argument, such that those opinions become ordained as “truth”.

 

Endarkenment is upon us.

More broadly, we see it in the dismissal (still!) of the cause and effect scientific method of climate scientists. We see it wherever opinion makers, or those with a financial stake in setting opinions, are most busy.

 

Tonight I saw it at the cricket.

 

I rapidly became numb to the Big Brother message hammered into my skull: (DAY/NIGHT TEST CRICKET IS THE BEST THING EVA), but not to the lack of verification of this claim. Would more people have gone to the cricket if it was scheduled as a regular Test match? Maybe? Who can say? (Answer: no one).

 

What were the associations of those making this claim? MA Taylor? Does he work for Cricket Australia? SK Warne? Has he ever been associated with nefarious business dealings or conflicts of interest? MJ Slater? Has he ever formed an opinion of his own? And the rest of them – do they work for a broadcaster whose interests start and stop with #numberof[insertdemographichere]viewers?

 

What of the players?

What of the spectators?

Do they think it better?

What about it was better?

Why?

What about it was not better?

Why?

 

I’d be very interested in the answers of players and spectators to those questions.

It looked as though players had trouble picking up the ball during the night session (e.g. SPD Smith two dropped catches at slip). The whole thing brought an unwanted air of circus to proceedings.

 

The chief highlight seemed to be panoramic shots of the sunset. If I want to see a sunset, there’s one playing every night outside my front door.

 

==

 

Of the cricket, an armchair psychologist could write a book about SE Marsh and his public fighting of demons. Well done him, to ward them off as long as he did today/night.

 

And well done to TA Boult and TG Southee, who always looked likely. Well done to BB McCullum for throwing the pill to MD Craig and MJ Santner at crucial times. Especially when SE and MR Marsh were up and going, the latter displaying, with naïve candour in a post-match interview, further evidence that the Endarkenment is upon us. For what kind of mindless troglodyte would throw his wicket away with a windy-woof at 4/161? MR Marsh when asked about that [grinning]: “I couldn’t help myself.” If only Jean-Jacques Rousseau was watching.

 

(Well done to BB McCullum also, for politely batting away questions of yesterday’s referral. That’s how to conduct yourself in polite company.)

 

Rosseau’s book “Of the Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right” (Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique; 1762) tries to explain the best way to establish a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society. (Hello Channel 9).

 

“The Social Contract” helped inspire political reforms or revolutions in Europe, especially in France. “The Social Contract” argued against the idea that monarchs were divinely empowered to legislate (or in 2015 society, the rich and famous). Instead, Rousseau asserts that only the people, who are sovereign, have that all-powerful right.

 

People applying deep thought, rational experiments and collecting empirical evidence underpin an enlightened approach to anything. This is the essence of an Enlightened human. The blind faith spouting of opinion as fact (e.g. “he should play his natural game”) does a disservice to all of us.

 

As an aside, it was extremely disappointing to learn on Saturday of the reading philosophy of Ken Hinkley; Port Adelaide footy coach; a man who otherwise gives the impression of being a thinker.

“Ken Hinkley says he was searching for clarity as well as rest when he took himself up to the north of Australia for two weeks of post-season annual leave after the most disappointing year of his short senior coaching career.

And he achieved both at Hamilton Island over a number of lazy days by the pool reading books for relaxation that reinforced in the mind of the Port Adelaide coach exactly where he went wrong in 2015.

Two books that stood out for Hinkley would sit comfortably at the top of most coaching play manuals: How The Mighty Fall by Jim Collins and Phil Jackson’s Eleven Rings: The Soul Of Success. Like many in his game Hinkley has no interest in novels.

“If I was reading a novel,” said the Port coach, “something that wasn’t real, I would have thrown it in the pool.”
Caroline Wilson article
http://www.theage.com.au/afl/port-adelaide-power/ken-hinkley-where-i-went-wrong-20151127-gla172.html

==

 

What is the enlightenment quotient in elite team sports environments?

What is the intellectual rigour of members of the Australian cricket team?

What is their level of questioning?

Is IM Chappell’s view on cricket (via DS Lehmann, SK Warne and MJ Clarke) the orthodoxy in the team?

Does anyone question it?

 

Simply, there is no cause and effect at play with the pink ball, Day/Night scheduling and close finish to this Adelaide Test. The close finish could be argued to have happened despite the day/night scheduling, rather than because of it. But as we watch the monarchs of 2015 line up to proclaim it a “success”, we can be sure that success is not measured objectively. The scientific method is out. Groupthink is in.

The sky is darkening.

The lights are off.

 

==

Other Almanac cricket stories.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. Missed much of yesterday’s cricket, ER. Was just across the river at Stephen Fry, commemorating 40 years since the decriminalisation of homosexual acts in SA by Don Dunstan’s government. In his 100 minutes Mr Fry touched on many of the same topics as you have here. We have at least one high profile person that applies the rules to themselves. In amongst talk of absolute good and uncertainty he also drew upon Bertie Russell’s saying: “Ever since puberty I have believed in the value of two things: kindness and clear thinking.” Suggesting both had left the stage of public and political discourse since unique individuals such as Dunstan strode the stage.

    That said, more people attended three days of a day/night test than have ever attended five days of a non-Ashes test in Adelaide. While the connection is not provable when testing it against something that didn’t happen, otherwise it is a hell of a coincidence. For me at the least day/night tests are a shade or two greyer than endarkenment might suggest. It will lead to better batters because they face changing conditions each day. Test cricket will reach a broader range of people – I bet the gender distribution was different to a normal test match. And, for me at least, the variety is welcome.

    Too often we tether ourselves to tradition as if it has meaning in and of itself. Test cricket has regularly changed and it is only when bogged down in imposed tradition that it stultifies. If we leave the future of test cricket in the BCCI’s hands we will be much worse off. All for day/night tests as an entertaining variant of test cricket. But as you suggest the groupthink (and $ in CA’s pockets) mean individual opinions may matter as much as they normally do.

  2. I have never been to the Adelaide Oval so I can’t compare day to night viewing there. However I have been to many days of cricket at the Gabba over the years and I can compare day to night viewing of the Sheffield Shield games, having wandered down to an evening session a couple of seasons back. Having not been to a shield match since the inaugural Qld win in 1995, I can say that my son and I probably only did attend because we could go after work/school and that parking restrictions were lifted after 5pm. My/our impressions were that it was so much more pleasant in the cool of the evening than being baked during the day. I can only imagine that sundown in Adelaide in Summer(ish) weather, would bring much relief to the punters as well as the players. My memory is that the pink ball was doing a bit but we could see it well from the boundary. We stayed for a pretty dour 25 overs, in which not many runs were scored but batsmen showed that with application, they could get through the new ball. I’m not saying if it’s the answer for Test cricket, just some observations from a spectators point of view.

  3. E Reg, might be somewhat of an overstatement to link night tests to the end of Enlightenment. :)

    But I take your point about the army of spruikers with obvious conflicts of interest. You will never get rid of them now, but anyone who really cares doesn’t pay them any more heed than they deserve.

    The sample of 1 test is too small to generalise, but I think this was an experiment worth trying. Test cricket faces a real challenge in appealing to a changing market whilst maintaining the integrity of the contest. This was far from the worst thing that could have been tried. And at least it’s a sign CA is prepared to pay more than lip service to test cricket.

    Thought provoking as always. Another reason why you’ll never get a gig at the Hun.

    Cheers

  4. G’day all. thanks.
    D Brown – I’d like to know more about this S Fry occasion.
    TG White – good call on escaping the heat of the day.
    J Butler – a stretch too far? The opportunity for worldplay was too inviting.

    Sure D/N Tests are worth a try.
    Wouldn’t be great to harvest some considered and widely gathered feedback on the trial. I’m sure that’s being undertaken now.

    The proclamation of how “successful” the venture was after Day 1 failed to take all viewpoints into account. Ongoing conversation likewise. Maybe it will be the best thing for the game, but let’s go about establishing this following a more reasoned approach. Ask around. Not just those that attended, but those that chose not to attend.

    Plenty of kids would not have attended who otherwise may have.
    Plenty of people with lives after dark, similarly.

    As always, the loudest voice is not always the voice to which we should listen.

  5. Most of the triumphant press releases would have been written before the first ball was bowled.

    I’d be keener to hear the real thoughts of the players once free of the hype zone. The players are the most reliable protectors of test cricket, because most of them understand it as their ultimate measure.

    It will be interesting to see if CA genuinely seeks their thoughts.

  6. Channel is already whinging that day/night Test cricket could reduce the value of their T20 TV rights.

    What was that? The fans? Who?

  7. The People's Elbow says

    Hinkley not a “thinker” because he doesn’t read novels…?

    Might just leave that one there.

  8. Dips – all so predictable. Where can the advertisers find the most eyeballs?

    P Elbow – I reckon a thinker seeks out all ideas. A thinker wouldn’t throw a valuable canon of humanity’s thought in the pool, on the basis that “it’s a novel”.
    You leave it there. Seems best.

  9. Interesting point E Regnans re the enlightenment period. Not long after the role of the commodity as being the principal in understanding economics came to the fore. The latter has risen to such a position of primacy we live in a world dominated by commodity fetishism.

    I certainly enjoyed the first day-night test. Two evenly matched sides fought out a match full of fluctuations, giving us three days of ongoing interest. Great for the fans, the players, the ACB, and hopefully the sponsors/medai interests. But wait no, Channel 9 are e concerned their bottom line might be impacted if te success of day night test cricket impacts on the BBL. Yep that’s right the future of day-night tests depends on the profitability they have for Channel 9. You must have priorities.

    Glen!

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Hey ER,
    I only watch 15-20 minute portions of cricket these days, but I didn’t mind the pink ball and the players wearing white at night. I liked that the bowlers dictated the match because test cricket has become too batsman friendly. Batting dronathons designed to stretch out to 5 days for maximum profit. Odds on that next year the pitch will be a feather bed in Adelaide. K. Hinkley obviously hasn’t heard of Toni Morrison or Christos Tsiolkas or Tony Birch…More real than most non-fiction. Cheers

  11. e.r.
    I have read your thought-provoking piece twice now – this morning and this afternoon.
    I agree with much of it, disagree with some. But is that not the point of a thought-provoking piece?
    I will make the following observations:
    a) I saw the ball quite clearly, from the first session to last on both days 1 and 2;
    b) one of the great joys of spending a day at the cricket is that you miss an entire day’s worth of Ch9 commentary;
    c) $14 for a can of UDL vodka and lime is daylight robbery.

  12. John Butler says

    Is it still daylight robbery if you buy the can after dark?

  13. JB,
    Very good.
    But it is robbery no matter when it occurs.

  14. G’day all.
    There seems to be a spurious line of commentary over the past few days that runs something like:
    ‘”What a great finish. We must therefore schedule more Day/Night Tests.”
    As if not realising that the Day/Night scheduling was not the reason for the tight finish.

    What were the reasons? A low scoring game is usually tight. And ends quickly. Why was it low scoring?
    Perhaps because extra grass coverage on the pitch preserved the integrity of the ball. Meant the ball was moving around for longer. Also, batting was poor (shot selection, concentration, approach).
    None of this is explicitly because of the Day/Night Test.
    Every now and then a close finish occurs in Test match cricket.

    It was (hopefully) blind luck that landed the close finish on a Sunday night in the eastern states.

    There is no cause and effect between Day/Night and close finishes.
    Important not to confuse the reasons these things happen.

  15. smokie – excellent 3 observations, well made.

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    Lots to think about in this ER. Well written.

    Day/Night Test cricket is a long way off being a success. The first trial went well. In conditions that were tailored to suit. Will it work on a typical UAE/Carribean pitch? Will the crowds keeps coming long term? Will TV viewers continue to tune in? We won’t know for years.

    I’m glad we are trying it. I’m a fan of the concept and want it to work. Wonderful to see big crowds in Adelaide & huge TV ratings. Test cricket will undergo many changes in the next decade. That’s ok, everything needs to evolve. Whether it’s played over 4 or 5 days, at daytime or day/night, with a pink or red ball, Test cricket is a wonderful game. Anything to improve the interest and following is worth a try. As long as it’s still recognisable as Test cricket. Very happy the players were still wearing whites and baggy greens/black caps. Long may it continue.

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