Floodlit Test could be set for next year

Steve Harmison struck twice with the pink new ball as the Durham bowlers started strongly PA Photos

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."