HomeTeamsPakistanAsif Iqbal on his experience of playing under lights for the first...
Asif Iqbal on his experience of playing under lights for the first time, WSC 1978
Asif Iqbal on his experience of playing under lights for the first time in World Series Cricket 1978. As a young lad top cricket was my aspiration. That I would be part of it — I only hoped. That it would go to such heights — I never thought. That it would be played at night — I never dreamt.
My boyhood days of cricket matches with dried sticks for stumps wooden planks for bats and dried oranges for balls were a far cry from night cricket, with the entire twentieth-century extravaganza. This is a true culmination of determination, talent, and organization. Those of us who have played at night know the exhilarating feeling. Those who have watched it know the thrills and the possibility that this is part of future cricket.
So much happened in the summer of 1977 and before the onset of WSC that the challenge was set before the first ball was bowled. I for one was determined not to be awed or tamed by the unique aspect of night cricket or the full glare of powerful lights.
For the night matches, I decided I would allow myself only one problem — the bowler and the ball. The rest, I was sure, would fall into line as in any daytime match. Much to my satisfaction, it worked. Batting under several thousand watts required nothing different in technique or attitude. The white ball showed up beautifully and did not get lost in the lights. A little extra concentration and adjustment had to be applied at the time between sunset and actual darkness, but having lived and played in England, one gets used to grey skies.
It was a great moment in Melbourne when the giant lights were turned on for the first time. I will always remember it clearly. It was one of childlike excitement coupled with a stomach-turning feeling, the sort one associates with exams. I tended for the time to forget the big money and prestige at stake. It was an adventure at hand. When I went out to bat I found, despite any earlier apprehensions, I was fearless.
Both my innings under the lights gave me immense satisfaction. They might not secure me a place in “Wisden” but they will remain one of the greatest memories of a lifetime. It is a great feeling for anyone with a bat to remind a bowler what one can do with it.
For the bowlers, night matches were an asset it was much cooler than during the day and, because of the dampness at night, the ball tended to “seam” more than usual and skid through. Perhaps the umpires would find it easier to give an lbw decision if the batsman pads were colored. An added advantage to sighting the ball will be the pending introduction of a black seam.
With crowds of over 20,000, there was no denying that night games were convenient. For the spectators, there was not only enjoyment in the cricket but in the entire spectacle. For those watching on the television it was most suitable there was no need to take time off work. In fact, TV viewers had sonic glimpses of the spectators missed. I remember having dinner with my pads on, sitting outside waiting my turn to bat. I was told hurt that I had been picked tip by one of the many cameras – a drink is commonplace, but dinner must be unusual.
As players, the enjoyment was great. There had to be, however, slight alterations to social schedules. Night games did not end until 10.30 p.m. Hence it was an invitation to breakfast and morning coffee rather than to dinner. Fun aside, there were pressures for the players. Floodlights did nothing to mask the fact. Facial features stood out more sharply Expressions were clearer — and, in them, were indications of the utter concentration and the tensions which come with any profession at its peak.
Most pundits of the game at first dismissed the idea of night cricket as ludicrous. For that matter, originally they had in 1963 looked on the advent of one-day cricket with equal disdain. Both are here to stay. In all departments of WSC, there was, and is, untold determination to make the entire event a success. That sort of willpower never fails. Read More – Asif Iqbal Leading the Invasion