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Floodlit Test could be set for next year

Sahil Dutta

September 7, 2011

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

Steve Harmison struck twice with the pink new ball as the Durham bowlers started strongly, MCC v Durham, Abu Dhabi, March 30, 2010
The pink ball has been used for the last two years in Abu Dhabi for English cricket's season curtain-raiser © PA Photos
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Test cricket could see its first day/night fixture as soon as January next year after the MCC said it was in discussions with New Zealand Cricket.

Zimbabwe are touring New Zealand and the Test match at Napier could be played under lights with a pink ball if trials set for October prove successful. The ECB announced that the Championship game between Kent and Glamorgan next week will be a day/night encounter and the MCC has ambitious plans.

"I'm currently in discussions with cricket New Zealand, hoping to organise a first-class match under lights with a pink ball between MCC and Northern Districts at the end of October in Hamilton," MCC director of cricket John Stephenson told ESPNcricinfo. "If that happens and it goes well and if NZC and ICC are all happy we're hoping that might be the precursor to New Zealand playing Zimbabwe in a Test match under lights at the end of January."

The MCC have been central in pushing day/night first-class cricket. With Test crowds in large parts of the world dwindling, finding new ways to draw people to grounds is essential. Floodlit games would allow people to come in after work and see half a day's play and it's hoped that may help increase spectator turnout.

For Stephenson, it is crowd numbers that is the most important gauge of success in the game at Canterbury. "If it helps stimulate attendances for what is in effect a dead game it would be a success. That's really the be all and end all.

"We've had two very good games in Abu Dhabi where the players adapted and there are periods of the game where, like in any form of cricket, you have to adapt. I'm just hoping the players will enjoy playing in a different format and I hope they see the ball well. It is always a danger with something new that if something goes wrong or someone drops a catch or misses a straight one, the colour of the ball will be blamed. But that is something that happens in any form of cricket, with a dark red ball even, sometimes you don't pick it up or miss a straight one."

Though floodlit first-class cricket could prove a crowd-puller in other parts of the world, England, especially in mid-September, is less suited to it. Not only will spectators have to brave the cold but evening dew could also come into play.

"The worry is at Canterbury in mid-September it won't be ideal in terms of conditions," said Stephenson. "But we pray for decent weather and no dew and hopefully we'll get an idea of how it works.

Dave Richardson, the ICC general manager of cricket, said at the ICC's cricket committee meeting in May that dew was a major factor to consider in day-night games but Stephenson is hopeful that the Kent-Glamorgan fixture won't sway New Zealand Cricket too much if conditions prove poor.

"You never know what the weather is going to be like," he said. "Obviously they'll [NZC] have a look at what goes on at Canterbury next week but hopefully that won't stop them doing it."

Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (September 10, 2011, 13:23 GMT)

Why didn't we have D/N tests as of yet???? Oh yes, ICC don't have the "balls".

Posted by   on (September 8, 2011, 18:11 GMT)

a 3 tiered system would be very interesting but the 4 biggest series in world cricket would be done away with. Pakistan vs India, The Gavaskar-Chapell Trophy Australia vs South Africa & the Ashes. 1 more sensible way to make test cricket more popular is to reduce the frequency of distracting limited over tournaments like Champions league, Big Bash & IPL. all these domestic t20 tournaments could be held biannually instead of annually.these tournaments do bring in much needed money for the various boards but they also reduce the quality of international cricket as players are unwilling to say no to the large sums of money they earns from these leagues. As a result they do not take time to rest mentally & recover fully from injuries & fatigue so they turn up injured unfit & unprepared for national duty. a key example is the IPL & the on going series between India & England which is not as exciting a contest as it would have been if all the players were fit & raring to go!!

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (September 8, 2011, 13:07 GMT)

Day/Night tests wont bring in more people. Also how many times have we seen pitches change under lights in ODI's, especially when there is humidity around. @Yevghenny, it does have context, creating a league system would be detrimental, where would historic series like the Ashes sit if Aus and England where in different divisions, or Pakistan vs India. Think things through before you start making ridiculous suggestions.

Posted by Yevghenny on (September 8, 2011, 11:16 GMT)

test cricket needs context. It doesn't mean anything at the moment. 3 divisions of 4 is a good idea, there will be less drubbings, and more importance

Posted by 512fm on (September 8, 2011, 8:41 GMT)

Im from NZ and there is no way you are going to get more people going to day night tests. The whole attraction behind test cricket in NZ is sitting on the banks with the sun out, which won't be at night.

Posted by SVicious on (September 8, 2011, 8:35 GMT)

Whats the big deal here? Why is taking so long to get something in place: The ICC just takes too long to make a decision and then twice that time to act on it. First the Pink Ball, which they have been trialling to death! Second the day-night debate for test matches, a long running saga with no end in sight. Just give it a go and see how it runs. Its most likely going to be a huge success! Third the biggest debate of all - the World Test Championships: Where is it? It should not take so long to put it together!! If we had the Test Championships in place, with 2 tiers in playing nations along with a mechanism to manage the 5 day test match with some of the principles of one day cricket rules then we'll see more success. Whats the debate about? Anyway, my opinion (for its 1/2 cents worth) is to make the decision making process faster, thought processes clearer with a view towards the longevity & support of the game.

Posted by plow on (September 8, 2011, 6:36 GMT)

I dont think day night matches are the answer to revive interest in test match cricket. I think it is time to divide the top 12 teams into three divisions, top, middle and bottom 4 with promotion relegation, still called "test cricket". I think that would generate the interest, if I am not wrong it would place Australia in the middle league.

Test cricket has to have meaning, thats why the ashes is so popular, its the significance behind it that makes people tune in. To watch a match between New Zealand and Zimbabwe would be interesting if it meant one team was on the verge of promotion or relegation.. at the moment it's a nothing match, even for me a die hard kiwi supporter.

Having a division of 4 teams would enable fair and regular scheduling, not a fixture programme built around financial returns for powerful cricket boards, where insignificant countries such as NZ barely get to play test cricket.

Posted by gothetaniwha on (September 8, 2011, 5:43 GMT)

An even bigger joke is playing a test in Napier under lights ( a rugby ground ) .It will be a draw it always is in Napier - Flattest pitch in NZ ,a road .

Posted by Gupta.Ankur on (September 8, 2011, 4:14 GMT)

Well, this seems a complete crazy idea to me...........

Posted by Paulonian on (September 8, 2011, 2:48 GMT)

What a joke, New Zealand haven't played a match in about 8 months and Zimbabwe are just coming back to international cricket. If experimentation that has a slim chance of ruining a game is going to happen why can't it happen with teams like Australia, England or India who seemingly are playing every 20 minutes.

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Sahil Dutta Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.
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