Australia still pursuing day-night Tests
Cricket Australia has taken a major step towards hosting Test matches at night after being assured that it is possible to develop suitable balls that will replicate the performance of the traditional red balls. Australia have been keen on the idea of day-night Tests for some time, although the major sticking point was finding a ball that could be used for 80 overs and retain its characteristics and visibility under lights.
In July, Cricket Australia asked Australia's national government body for scientific research, the CSIRO, to discover whether such a ball could be developed. The CSIRO has now come up with an assurance that it can be done.
"The CSIRO has told us it is absolutely possible to deliver a ball that replicates, at all times, the performance of the red ball," Peter Young, Cricket Australia's spokesman, told the Sun-Herald. "They're developing a system where cricket balls can be tested - a cricketing version of the Australian Standards Association - so we know for sure these balls are Test standard."
During the 1990s Australia trialled day-night Sheffield Shield matches but could not settle on what colour ball was most suitable. Yellow balls were used for two seasons before being replaced by orange ones, but batsmen complained both types were hard to see, scuffed too easily and behaved differently to the traditional red balls.
The white balls used in one-day international cricket also behave in a slightly different manner to red balls and, in any case, would be unsuitable for matches where the players wear white. Pink balls have been tested in England and may yet be the most feasible option.
Whatever the CSIRO's outcome, Cricket Australia remains committed to pursuing night Test matches. The ICC and the other Test nations would need to approve such a move but Cricket Australia is confident that fans would prefer to watch matches with an afternoon start time.
"Whatever sport you look at - cricket in the shorter forms of the game, football in any of its forms, tennis, even basketball and baseball in the northern hemisphere - the world is saying: 'We want to watch these events at night'," Young said. "Strategically, we need to take note of that.
"This meeting with the CSIRO has been a significant first step. Some people would obviously be disappointed if we went down this path, certainly the absolute purists. But there were similar reservations when limited-overs cricket first came along."