CAPE TOWN – Why has there been no pink-ball Test in this series against Australia?
Watching the lethal Trent Boult-Tim Southee swing duo dismantle a helpless England at Eden Park overnight, I could not help but wonder what damage the likes of Mitchell Starc, Vernon Philander, Josh Hazlewood and Kagiso Rabada would have done with a pink Kookaburra.
South Africa and Australia have already played a pink-ball Test in Adelaide two years ago - a Test the Aussies won after already surrendering the series - and listening to the players' reactions afterwards, it seemed the Proteas especially enjoyed it after initial scepticism.
Cricket SA trialled a day-night four-day Test against Zimbabwe over the festive season last year in Port Elizabeth, but due to the mediocre opposition, the full benefits could not be ascertained over only one-and-a-half days of action.
Besides the obvious drama that has engulfed this on-going series, a big talking point has been the vastly empty stadiums for the first two Tests in Durban and PE.
Much has been made about the fact that Test matches played in March are going to struggle to pull a crowd due to work responsibilities, although Newlands certainly put that argument to bed yesterday with a healthy attendance on day one.
But if this indeed is the reason for the poor turnouts in Durban and PE, then there should be an even greater push for day-night Tests to be held in SA. Both those cities would have compelling arguments in their favour too. For too long has play been suspended early at Kingsmead due to bad light, causing a considerable number of overs to be lost.
The fact that teams rarely bowl their allotted 90 overs per day too means spectators have had their entertainment short-changed for a long while already.
Equally, St George’s Park may not have had gained full value from the inaugural pink-ball Test held in SA, but the experiment certainly showed that the all-important factor required to host a day-night Test - the floodlights - were in excellent condition after being installed last year.
I also believe SuperSport Park would be a lovely venue for a day-night Test. Spectator attendance in Centurion has been good for all formats over the years, and I do think a pink-ball Test would be embraced as an occasion in those parts. The grass banks would certainly be packed to the rafters and the Highveld sunset would rival the Adelaide skyline for a picture-perfect moment.
It is fantastic that spectators continue to flock to Newlands for Test cricket, whether it’s in the depth of autumn or the New Year, but CSA cannot rest on its laurels that it stages one - maybe two - marquee Tests a year.
Traditionalists might also argue that the pink-ball creates an imbalance due the amount the ball swings and seams at night, but why are batsmen only allowed having conditions in their favour?
Despite the monetary incentives of playing in T20 leagues all around the world, the players insist that Test cricket remains the premier format.
It is by time administrators prove they believe that too by embracing change and doing their utmost to get people back into the stadia.