Day-Night cricket: The eyes need research

Image courtesy of Adelaide Oval website

We all agree day-night 1st class cricket is a work in progress the pink ball is gradually improving re keeping its hardness and its seam but still a long way to go.


I was at the Shield game on Saturday night with Raf Sterk ex Aussie water polo super star. We were sitting in the row of seats in front of the SA dressing room (we even discussed how dark the dressing room was) when the South Aussie opening batsmen Jake Weatherald and John Dalton were leading the fight back against NSW with a opening partnership of 137.


While the openers were established, as soon as a wicket fell, it well and truly seemed that the new batsman struggled to pick the ball up. It seems like the eyes take a while to adjust from reasonably dark to brightness (ok the ball Starc bowled Lehmann with would have got every player in the world out it was unplayable) but Travis Head just played down the wrong line and yes must give Starc credit for effectively ending the game as a contest with some fine express bowling.


Callum Ferguson on radio last night made the point as the ball got older it is harder to pick up. My thought though is going from a dark dressing room out in to the middle is part of the problem so either:


1 Light the dressing room up far more


2 Have The players sit down on the boundary line in a dug out like they do in 20/20 matches


3 The most radical suggestion, light the nets up and have players go out to bat from there. Ferg correctly makes the point re the timed out rule would become a problem and there would have to be added security to walk the new batsman partly thru the crowd neither problem is insurmountable with some common sense used (common sense – sport mmmm)


Summing up, most players like the sanctuary of a dressing room, usually sitting in the same spot waiting to bat, but this effectively is a new game and the eyes are the most important part of batting. It is a area which demands some research and experimentation, working out the most effective method going forward.


  1. The main down side of Day/Night games aside for the queries on the ball is how it distorts the contest. Teams know that there is a huge advantage in bowling as twilight turns to night. Where the ball starts to swing. Which means declarations could be tailored to fit in. Which tampers with the game in a sense

  2. Dan Hansen says

    I see a similar problem with night AFL games. Umpires have trouble seeing minor incidents thus changing the result of a game. For example, if the umpires eyes had aclimatised a bit earlier he would have seen Polec’s first contact was on the shoulder and Shuey initiated the high contact by lifting his arm.

    As the rule states, “Umpires will be asked to call play on when a tackle is assessed as reasonable (no swinging arm or contact being incidental) and the player with the ball is responsible for the high contact.”

    If the umpire wasn’t sitting in a dark changeroom before the game he would have called “play on”.

  3. Very interesting. I had never thought much about it but it makes sense. Perhaps the next batters in should wear blue light glasses, the same used to treat depression, seasonal affectation disorder and circadian rhythm disorders to prepare the eye for the glare of the lights.

  4. Willow Wilson says

    Some interesting suggestions Book, suggestions 1 and 2 appear straight forward but how does lighting up the nets work? When does the next batsman go to the nets? At the fall of a wicket, which leads to a timing issue and delay of game?
    How does the impact of the extra swing at night impact on the importance of the toss, or is it more about timing of run scoring and declarations?
    Not sure if Dan is a bitter Power fan or taking the piss, definitely a free kick to Shuey, hundreds of those were paid throughout the year, Selwood (x2), Dangerfield being the most obvious recipients. The tackle was the issue not the decision.

  5. I was at the game on Sunday afternoon, sitting in front of the team change rooms, so had a very similar view to yours. Even though it was daytime it looked like batters had trouble with the express pace of Starc and it was hard to pick up the ball from the sidelines, let alone out in the middle. The quickest movement in any sport is to “lift the eyes” and when batting in cricket, this is vital. It appeared that on occasion players couldn’t adjust quickly enough to see the ball, and then play it accordingly. The fact that Starc bowled the house down is one thing, but i noticed how many players were getting bowled or LBW – early in their innings.

    I wish the test went back to the traditional format until a better solution to the pink ball is found. We don’t want yet another 3.5 day test match, do we?

    PS – Cam Ferguson’s LBW in the second dig was farcical, even a B3 turf umpire would have turned down the appeal. If SA had got another 50 – 60 runs then the result could have been different. Only Warner looked comfy and they limped to 54 and lost 4 wickets along the way – if the target was 114, the result may have been different!

  6. Jeff Milton says

    Going from the change rooms to the bright sun in the middle of the day has always been an issue. Even more so at night time when the oval is so much brighter than everything around it. Part of the issue too must be that once the pink ball softens it is harder to pick up than the older red ball.

    Having the next 2 batsmen sitting in a dug out would certainly improve the light issue but unlike 20/20 you could be waiting there for a long time for the next wicket to fall.

    It would slow the game down a little but maybe you give the incoming batsman at night time an extra minute to stand on the boundary line and give his eyes more time to adjust.

    Remember in the old days Ian Chappell coming in to bat very obviously staring up at the sky trying to adjust his eyes from the dressing room light to the bright summer sun.

  7. The seam goes dark pretty quick as well which doesn’t help but standing under the lights would surely help get adjusted before going into bat. As we discussed on the night, there was very little heckling going on but sitting in the dugout getting chirped at from the seats behind would be a nightmare as well..

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Some good ideas there Rulebook. There’s plenty of evolving to be done and innovations to be implemented in Day-Night first class cricket.
    I’m a huge fan of the concept, am sure we’ll see more and more of it. I’ve only ever been to one Day-Night Shield game and it was more than 20 years ago! Saw my hero Dean Jones score a triple ton against SA. With a yellow ball. Would love to have the opportunity to see one of these games at the MCG soon.

  9. Cameron Glenn says

    Some good thoughts there. Not as big on test cricket but I do feel that the day night test matches have given the sport life with bigger crowds in Adelaide and hopefully in Brisbane in a few weeks. Easier for workers to attend weekday games where they could take in a session at night after work. Any issues they have, they will need to look into it to keep the concept going forward not backwards.

  10. Interesting ideas.
    Don’t think anything will change in the short term. Maybe a good idea if next batsman in sat down on the ground but dont know how it would effect their preperation as every player is different.
    Id like to see more research into why the pink ball hoops around more then the red or white balls though

  11. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Tim couldn’t agree more,Danny well played and off you go to spec savers,Duncs interesting point and definitely worthy of more investigation and in reality trials.Willow where the nets are in the Members a player could be having a hit a wicket falls and provided security where there could enter from that point it may be a minute if that longer walk ( I agree 1 and 2 are more likely but 3 could work ) and yes always banter with the Dane he will eventually admit it was a obvious free kick.Jags yes I totally agree a ashes test match didn’t need the continued experimentation and there were several poor decisions in the game which went the blues way surprise surprise a caught behind re Warner in the 1st innings which would have had NSW 4-68 any more bat on it and it would have gone for four,Cooper bump ball as well we certainly didn’t have much luck.Milts totally agree and Ian Chappell perfect example exactly what he did
    Raf yes could certainly hear every word even from the stand up above which didn’t help,Travis Heads night and yes security would definitely be needed near the dug out.Luke yep plenty of evolving to do yet while improvements re the pink ball a long way to go yet and remember,Deano completely dominating that game.Cameron yes definitely better for the spectator in general which must be a massive consideration moving the game forward but as MH and others have remarked a lot more research needed re the pink ball especially why it hoops so much at night mind you bowlers are saying finally a element going there way instead of every thing in flavour of the batsman ( considering sport now days is unfortunately so much about money can’t really afford to have,3 day test matches tho ) thank you

  12. Andrew Mills says

    I played the Adelaide Turf Cricket 20/20s last season using the pink ball. I found it harder to judge the speed of the ball through the air while it was easy to see it.

  13. Some interesting and thoughtful points here, RB.
    I certainly have NEVER liked the idea of batsmen sitting in darkened change-rooms before going out to bat. Acclimitisation is vital.

  14. Some good points raised. The problem with increasing artificial lighting is it may affect player vision. But like you said it’s a work in progress.

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