Black Caps keen to give day-night test the respect it deserves
Having been guilty of treating the world's first Twenty20 international as little more than a source of amusement, former New Zealand batsman Craig McMillan is adamant the current Black Caps he now coaches will fully appreciate the significance of playing in the first day-night test next week.
"It was a different feeling, almost a carnival atmosphere. Perhaps it wasn't taken as seriously as what it should have been. No-one had the inkling ... it was going to be the norm and part of the calendar," McMillan said of the February 2005 match in Auckland, which featured players sporting retro-style wigs and uniforms.
"That's why it's important we prepare properly and we look forward to this, because we just don't know in three or four years' time where cricket is going to head. I think it's important, as a sport, that we're always looking to encouragement different groups, different people to come to the game, and this is certainly a way of doing that."
The sense the Black Caps are conspicuously more excited about playing with the pink ball than the Australians was reinforced by the comments of McMillan, the visitors' batting coach. Victory at Adelaide Oval would secure a second consecutive drawn series in Australia for the Black Caps, which would mark a significant recovery given the chasm between the team in the six first days of play in the series.
"We're certainly more happy with our performance in the second test than the first. I think guys have gained a lot of confidence individually and as a group from the performance in Perth," he said. "With this being a little bit of an unknown because it's a different situation - it's at night, it's a different ball - there's an excitement. I think there's not a lot between the two sides, so it all adds up to an exciting test match ahead."
With New Zealand to return home before the marquee tests of the summer, Australia will instead host the West Indies in Melbourne and Sydney, McMillan welcomed the prospect of a capacity crowd to open the third test next Friday at Adelaide Oval.
"I don't know how the Australians are thinking. All I know is talk of 50,000 on the first day of a test match, for us, is very exciting. We generally don't play in front of crowds like that in terms of test cricket," he said. "There is a lot of excitement. We've heard a lot about the Adelaide Oval, its redevelopment and how it looks. Everyone we've talked to says what an amazing stadium it is. All we can control is the way we act and the way we talk, and we're excited."
McMillan is expecting the Adelaide Oval pitch to have a greater covering a grass than what was produced at the Gabba and the WACA Ground.
"Historically, Adelaide has generally been pretty flat and at times hasn't turned, but I wouldn't be surprised to maybe see more grass and even a hint of green grass on the surface - certainly more than what we've seen in the first two tests," he said.
"I think on previous tours of Australia there's certainly been a little bit more there for the bowlers at different stages. Certainly the past two test matches have been taxing on both bowling attacks, so giving everyone a bit of a break over the past couple of days has been really important."
- The Age