Of Theseus, Trigger and Test cricket

Have you watched Trigger’s Broom? If you haven’t, you’re a lucky person. Just wander over to your old-TV-episodes-watching vehicle of choice and indulge yourself.


An unforgettable episode from an unforgettable series. RIP Roger Lloyd Pack.

Trigger’s broom. 20 years. 17 new heads. 14 new handles. When does it stop being Trigger’s broom? That’s what John Sullivan wanted us to think about.

It’s been asked before, notably by Plutarch, one or two years before Sullivan. The Ship of Theseus Paradox. It’s worth reading the Wikipedia article to understand how philosophers have dealt with this question: When you replace every component of something, at what point does it stop being the original thing?

There’s a lot I don’t know. But there’s one thing I know.

When Test cricket is played by people wearing coloured pyjamas, I will stop watching.

That day may be coming close. Today I read that Australia and New Zealand have agreed to play a day-night Test this November.

I saw the headline. And went into Marmite mode as I prepared to read further. Day-night? Makes sense. Makes a lot of sense. No more needing to take time off work to attend the match. No more “going off for bad light”. Learning about evening dew rather than its morning equivalent.

Anything that’s alive has its own way of evolving, adjusting, growing, changing. Not just human beings and flora and fauna. But food, language, culture, even ideas.

So I’m all for change in cricket, and I’ve been a big fan of many of the changes. So when the book-length game became available in article form in 60 overs, then 50, I cheered. When the article-length game morphed into the T20 format, I cheered again. And took out debentures at Lord’s and at the Oval.

The late cut and the leg glance haven’t been replaced by the reverse sweep or the overhead paddle; instead, we can savour a greater variety of strokes. As players have become fitter, we see phenomena like the relay catch shown here involving Tim Southee and Karun Nair.

Yes, I’m all for change in cricket. Of course, some changes grate, because they’re still evolving. It’s good to see that umpires can now use technology to assist them in making decisions. It would be better if the blatant nonsense of “umpire’s call” was done away with. And even better still if there was choice in the tools used to track ball flight, bat contact and sound. Similarly, The Duckworth-Lewis Method is a good name for an Irish pop band, but complete codswallop when it comes to dealing with rain-shortened matches. Progress doesn’t come easily.

We’ve been changing Test cricket ever since we starting calling a class of international match a Test. Will there come a time when it’s a change too far, when Test cricket is no longer Test cricket?

I think there will. And sadly it may come soon.

Day-night Tests? Great. Pink balls? Still great.

Pink pyjamas?


That’s not cricket.

Not Test cricket.

Right now I feel we’ve been reprieved, the inaugural day-night Test is one where the wearing of whites is stipulated.

I hope it stays that way.



Let me know what you think

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