England cricket February 9, 2009

England take steps towards staging floodlit Tests

Cricinfo staff

Lord's under lights during the ground's first day-night match in 2007 © Martin Williamson
Lord's could be the first ground to stage a floodlit Test according to a report in the Times at the weekend, with the experiment happening as early as 2010.

Last month, the MCC, who own Lord's, received permission to install permanent floodlights, and given the public support of both the ECB and the ICC, it seems a case of when and not if this happens.

The colour of the ball is posing a few problems. Red is obviously not an option under lights, and white is not viable unless white clothing is also ditched. There is also the perennial problem of the balls becoming discoloured. Trials with pink and orange balls are ongoing, and there is talk that yellow will also be investigated. London's Imperial College are continuing to look into the matter.

Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, has made no secret of his enthusiasm for floodlit Tests. "It's very important for the game to understand what the spectators want to watch, when they want to watch it and how long they want to watch it for, because we should, at all times, be reacting to the changes in society.

"Grounds in England are generally filled for Test cricket, but it was not so long ago that there was a concern about falling attendances. People like to watch cricket in the evening, and this has been proven in Twenty20 cricket."

Clarke added the ECB was keen for a Championship match to be played under lights during the 2009 summer as a dummy run.

But the MCC is likely to face stiff opposition from the local residents who have opposed a number of moves to take cricket outside the traditional time slots. The initial proposal for floodlights was rejected by Westminster council after substantial levels of opposition, and planning permission for four 48-metre pylons was eventually granted with restrictions on usage.

There can only be 12 days of floodlit cricket and four practice matches each year, and Andrew Mainz, a representative of the local residents, said: "We remain concerned that people living close to the ground could suffer from a lot disturbance caused by the lights, the noise and the crowds when floodlit night-time matches are playing. But we also recognise that Lords is trying hard to keep the effect of the floodlights in and above the grounds itself.

"We hope the negative impact will be limited but we shall be watching what happens very closely and will work hard to stop any breach of the permission by the MCC."

"It's very early days and floodlit Tests would be subject to an ECB bidding process," an MCC spokesman told Cricinfo.