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December 16, 2009
ICC president David Morgan has given a clear endorsement of day-night Tests, saying he would be "surprised and disappointed" if it didn't happen in the next two years. He did not, however, commit on the other current Test-related issue, that of a championship in the format.
Morgan, who earlier this year had hinted that Test cricket may be reduced to four days, feels the possibility of the five-day game being played under lights is close to fruition.
"I'd be surprised if we don't see day-night Test cricket within the next two years, surprised and disappointed," Morgan said at a meeting of the Indian Journalists' Association at The Oval.
"If you look at a country like Australia with big stadia and very hot conditions, Australia is made for day-night Test cricket," he said. "Eighteen months ago, I wouldn't have been overly enthusiastic, thinking of the tradition and the records. But the way Test match cricket has changed over 130-odd years, I see [day-night Tests] as a very good reason for bringing the crowds out.
"Day/night cricket is less important in England and Wales because the grounds, which are relatively small sell-out. It's more important in countries with large stadia and hot conditions."
The ICC is also looking into creating a World Test Championship, though Morgan shied away from the term and stressed the need for Tests to have context.
"In terms of each Test match having a context beyond bilateral series, real progress could be made soon," he said, adding there might be a "climax" although he didn't say how this would be achieved.
"We want to ensure Test match cricket is as popular around world as it is in this country [England]. The ECB have little trouble in selling out the first four days of a Test."
Attendances for Test cricket in England is healthy as opposed to other countries where it has been on the wane for some years, and the ICC has been in talks about ways to protect and enrich the game's oldest format in the face of lucrative Twenty20 leagues like the IPL.
Other radical changes, such as a two-tier format, had been mooted for the next Future Tours Programme. "At ICC, we regard Test cricket as the pinnacle of the game. It's the form of the game cricketers seek to play," he added. "It is interesting Test cricket has endured and I am sure it is going to continue to thrive. The ICC has recognised that in some countries Test-match cricket is not that popular in terms of people paying at the gate. It needs to be a competitive event and it needs pitches that provide a good balance between bat and ball."
Morgan's comments came a day after it was announced that the first-class game in the West Indies will include radical innovations such as day-night matches and the use of pink balls to boost spectator interest.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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