Adelaide day-night Test still uncertain
Cricket Australia will continue its efforts to persuade South Africa to agree to a day-night Test at Adelaide Oval next summer, despite concerns from the South African players that they will be disadvantaged due to their lack of experience against the pink ball.
The Australian summer schedule has been released, with the Brisbane Test against Pakistan locked in as a day-night encounter. Four teams will tour Australia, with the summer set to begin with Tests against South Africa, followed by a three-match Chappell-Hadlee Trophy contest with New Zealand, Tests and ODIs against Pakistan, and finally T20s against Sri Lanka.
The WACA will host the first Test of the summer in early November while the Gabba, typically given the first Test of the season, will instead host the first Test of the Pakistan series. Whether Australia play back-to-back day-night Tests at the end of the South Africa series and the start of the Pakistan series remains to be seen.
"We are working with Cricket South Africa with a view to ensuring that the Adelaide Test is a day-night Test," Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said. "With more than 123,000 people attending and an average of two million watching on television last season, there is enormous expectation that we deliver another pink ball Test match this summer in Adelaide.
"Understandably, there is some concern from the South African players, but day-night Test cricket is all about the fans and a day-night match in Adelaide will be a bigger Test match crowd than the South African players will have ever experienced.
"The success of Adelaide last year demonstrates the huge potential the day-night format has in revitalising Test cricket all over the world, and it's for that reason that it is our desire to stage another Test under lights at that venue.
"We believe that having the ability to move matches into the evenings provides cricket fans with greater access to the game, both at the ground and at home on TV, and there is no doubt that this will help grow interest in Test cricket.
"Even for cricket fans at home in South Africa there are benefits. The day-night Test hours will allow the match to be televised in a far more attractive time of day in South Africa."
The South Africans have argued that the Adelaide Test should not be played as a day-night fixture as it could be the decider in an important series, and Australia's cricketers have far more experience against the pink ball. Tony Irish, the CEO of the South African Cricketers' Association, said that while the players understood why CA was trialling day-night Test cricket, it was "still very experimental".
Regardless of the Adelaide scheduling, one new experience for South Africa's cricketers will be playing a Test match in Hobart for the first time. Beginning the Australian Test summer in Perth is also a new feature of the calendar, with Brisbane's Test pushed back to mid-December and the Gabba set to become the second ground in Australia to host a day-night Test.
"The decision to start the international season in Perth allows us to do so with a bang," Sutherland said. "It gives Western Australian cricket fans, including a strong local South African community, the chance to see two of the world's best sides, while allowing us to broadcast the match in prime time to the east coast of Australia.
"In partnership with Queensland Cricket, we've explored a number of options for boosting the appeal of the [Gabba] Test match. We think staging it at the beginning of the holiday period when more parents and kids can get to the game is certainly worth trialling.
"We also believe that Queensland's climate really lends itself to Test cricket in day-night conditions, making for a great fan experience. We've had a number of pink ball trials under lights in Brisbane and believe that the time is right to stage a day-night Test at the Gabba, adding another chapter to international cricket in Queensland."
Test series v South Africa
1st Test, Perth, November 3-7
2nd Test, Hobart, November 12-16
3rd Test, Adelaide, November 24-28
1st ODI, Sydney, December 4
2nd ODI, Canberra, December 6
3rd ODI, Melbourne, December 9
Test series v Pakistan
1st Test, Brisbane, December 15-19
2nd Test, Melbourne, December 26-30
3rd Test, Sydney, January 3-7
ODI series v Pakistan
1st ODI, Brisbane, January 13
2nd ODI, Melbourne, January 15
3rd ODI, Perth, January 19
4th ODI, Sydney, January 22
5th ODI, Adelaide, January 26
T20 series v Sri Lanka
1st T20, TBC, February 17
2nd T20, TBC, February 19
3rd T20, TBC, February 22