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Australia to trial day-night first-class cricket

ESPNcricinfo staff

August 30, 2013

Comments: 36 | Text size: A | A

The light closes in on at The Oval, England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day, August 25, 2013
Australia could see a day-night Test in the 2015-16 season © PA Photos
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Cricket Australia plans to trial day-night first-class cricket with the longer-term aim of playing a Test in the country under lights. The ninth round of the Sheffield Shield this season will be a day-night affair with pink balls in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.

If these attempts are successful, CA will look to schedule more day-night first-class matches in the 2014-15 season to further trial playing conditions and equipment. The matches are the first step towards a potential day-night Test being played in Australia in 2015-16, according to a CA release, and the board has been in talks with New Zealand Cricket about the possibility, with the neighbours slated to come visiting towards the end of 2015.

"There is a lot of work to be done and nothing is guaranteed but this summer's trials are our first serious effort to make day-night Test cricket a reality," CA CEO James Sutherland said. "We've also had some discussions with New Zealand Cricket to gauge their interest in the concept over the past few weeks given they are due to tour Australia in late 2015.

"This is all about the fans. Cricket can't afford to sit on its hands and must keep working hard to ensure Tests remain the most popular form of the game. There isn't a major team sport in the world that schedules the majority of its premium content during the working week. At least three days of a Test are played when adults are at work and kids are at school.

"No doubt there will be some resistance along the way but for the sake of growing the game in the long term, cricket needs to address the hurdles standing in the way of day-night Test cricket in a rational, mature way."

Sutherland acknowledged the challenges in the way, specifically those relating to developing a ball that works under lights for the long format and about the peculiar problems night conditions would pose. "We acknowledge that one of the critical aspects is how the ball wears, behaves and is seen over the course of an innings. There are also some concerns about dew on the ground at night. There may need to be some flexibility and compromise to get to the outcome."

The ICC last year approved the idea of day-night Tests, a decision which was welcomed by Sutherland, but left it to member boards to decide on the hours of play and the colour of the ball. Pakistan's offer to Sri Lanka to play a Test under lights in January 2014 on their tour to the United Arab Emirates was turned down by the latter, which cited its players' lack of practice with the pink ball as the source of their reluctance. Day-night first-class matches have been trialled before in Pakistan, South Africa, England, West Indies, India and Bangladesh.

"In encouraging teams to trial Test cricket as day-night matches, the ICC has said it will take a positive and flexible view of any proposed amendments to playing conditions that will allow such trials to proceed," Sutherland said. "CA's commitment to Test cricket does not just extend to our men's team being the best in the world. We also have a responsibility to help grow interest in Test cricket around the world. To achieve this, we need to try and find a way to schedule our premium content at a time when the most number of fans are able to attend and watch.

"The game needs to continue to evolve to meet the needs of its fans. We are not proposing all Tests should be played at night in the long-term, however, there are certain venues and times of the year where day-night Test cricket can potentially enhance and further promote and support the game."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (September 2, 2013, 1:54 GMT)

What's new about this?

The Shield had day/night games in the late 90s using yellow balls. If memory serves me right, the balls got too dirty and there was no improvement in the meagre crowds that Shield cricket always gets.

Posted by 512fm on (September 1, 2013, 1:44 GMT)

The breaks will be interesting, maybe tea then dinner followed by supper

Posted by Ragav999 on (August 31, 2013, 13:13 GMT)

Oh my goodness! I hope they do not start entertaining the idea of bringing in cheerleaders here too. Having watched Ashes series with all cricketers in pure white with no advertisements on their dress and very less commercials in between overs was a fresh breath and many viewers don't want to lose it.

Posted by Chris_P on (August 31, 2013, 9:46 GMT)

It's been tried, with a pink ball. In the mid 90's shield games were played under lights & they found the pink balls didn't last. I used to go after work & watch the shield games with a few hundred people. It was good for the cricket enthusiasts, but didn't take off & there was the ball issue. So what's changed?

Posted by Humdingers on (August 31, 2013, 9:34 GMT)

Good in concept but will never work. The driving factor really is getting viewership in India (yes it will also boost numbers locally, but let's be honest, it's not this that is driving this). India will not opt to play under lights - major reason being that they do not need to play under lights in India for any other country's viewership. Hence, they won't have the practice as lead in. Why then would they take a risk playing overseas under lights?

Posted by   on (August 31, 2013, 8:25 GMT)

Neil Rickard Bradman didn't even want to pay players a proper wage. Cricket would be dead in the proffesional era of sports if it was up to him. Wake up to it, we need to save test cricket. It's the best sport on earth. This is how we do it.

Posted by   on (August 31, 2013, 5:38 GMT)

After watching the Ashes during the night here in Aus. I have to say, day night test cricket is the best thing for our wonderful sport.

Posted by   on (August 31, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

What about the twilight time when it gets difficult to sight the ball even under lights? And what about meal breaks - lunch and tea? What will these breaks be replaced with?

Posted by Wefinishthis on (August 31, 2013, 1:57 GMT)

ballsintherightareas - Great point you raise, but this is different. All of those other sports had major problems that needed fixing and none of them took away from tradition other than perhaps your Union example - but they reguarly review and change the points system and furthermore, the goal was an improvement in the game. Yes Test Cricket has issues (DRS system, scheduling and subcontinent interest) but moving to nights does not improve the game. It is answering a question nobody asked. Playing tests at night will fundamentally change the game as the pink ball will behave differently, tactics will change, there will be more controversy (bad light decisions, power outages) etc. In fact, the entire point of cricket was a game to play during the hot summer months that was not as physically exhausting as a winter sport like Football. Moving it to nights just defeats the purpose of everything. So I say leave the night excitement and money-making to T20's and leave Test Cricket as it is.

Posted by HatsforBats on (August 31, 2013, 1:36 GMT)

I'm not a fan of this idea. The potential for unbalanced playing conditions is too great. The best way to promote test cricket and get people invested in it is by ensuring it is of the highest quality (I'd love to see participation numbers in England pre- & post-Ashes 2005). CA have done their best to ruin our first class system and test team. How about more regional games? NSW played in Newcastle a couple of years ago (I watched Hughes pummel a century), and it was just about sold out every day. How often does that happen for a shield game?

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