Talks of the uncertain future of Test cricket have been around for a while now. Some experts speculate that with the growing public appeal in limited overs cricket, T20s in particular, and the stingy two-sided tour schedules with lesser focus on five-day cricket, the purest form of the sport is set to lose its allure.

The overdose of fast and frenzy T20 cricket over the last the few years has seen Test cricket taking a back seat. More and more T20 hysteria meant lesser space for Test matches in a calendar year; rarely do we see that number close to 15. Also, T20 leagues have become too popular to ignore these days; it brings in a lot of revenue, traffic, and entertainment, and of course big sixes and quick runs. The lure of T20 cricket has become too extravagant for players to brush aside these days for many a reason. 

Pakistan’s first ever day-night experiment was witnessed at the Dubai Cricket Stadium this week. A lot of focus was on the new pink cherry and its visibility under shining lights. As an avid follower of cricket for over half a decade, and a professional player, something really bothered me.

The real concern is the docile nature of the Dubai wicket, which offered no assistance to any fast bowler – ‘absolute belter’ in cricketing terminology. Yes, it started to roughen up a little as the game went on, and provided spin bowlers with decent turn once those rough patches started to appear, still there was no sign of improvement for the quicker bowlers which is really worrisome. All the batters seemed at complete ease even against the newer ball, which is very uncommon to see in cricket. The Duke cherry just didn’t do enough for fast bowlers, or should I say the pitch quality was so ineffective that it didn’t allow any room for it to play any tricks whatsoever.

Minus Pakistan’s self-inflicted batting capitulation in the third innings, the batters had a ball. It reflects how insipid the behavior of the wicket was throughout the match.

Of course, you cannot take any credit away from any batsmen and you still have to put bad deliveries away even if you are playing on a cement track, but still there should be an all square tussle between bat and ball so that the bowlers don’t have to cope with all the wrath.

The balance between bat and ball was certainly missing, which is a clear reflection of wearisome nature of the pitch. The clear bias in favor of batsmen is just not the standard Test cricket that we all are so accustomed to seeing. Who can forget the iconic Ashes series in 2005 where fortunes had swung many times within the span of overs and sessions. Long gone are those days when spectators would pour in huge numbers to watch every day’s gripping passage of play.

Not only have these flat tracks taken away the interest in this phenomenal game, but they have also undervalued the technical aspect of batting where players with dull techniques enjoy batting with a great degree of flourish. Furthermore, bowlers find themselves at the receiving end all the time on this kind of surface, which is downright embarrassing.

Test cricket is in shambles already, and surfaces like Dubai’s aren’t going to help the renewal of the longest format. It is too early to speculate the triumph of this day-night experiment, which aims to regain the rapidly fading popularity of longer format. However, empty stands in Dubai Stadium did not tell a good story.