Pink ball undergoes broadcast trial
The seemingly inexorable push towards playing a day-night Test this year continued at the MCG on Sunday, when Channel Nine and Cricket Australia conducted a broadcast trial with pink balls
The seemingly inexorable push towards playing a day-night Test this year continued at the MCG on Sunday, when Channel Nine and Cricket Australia conducted a broadcast trial with pink balls. Australia appear almost certain to host the inaugural day-night Test against New Zealand in November, with Adelaide Oval and Bellerive Oval in Hobart the most likely venues.
A day-night round of Sheffield Shield matches was played in November with pink Kookaburra balls, following on from a similar round near the end of last summer. Cricket Australia is confident the pink ball will be able to stand up to the rigours of Test cricket, but Sunday's trial in Melbourne was intended to assess how the ball shows up on television.
Channel Nine used their full setup of cameras in place for the Australia-India one-day international and club cricketers took part in the pink-ball trial before play, during the innings break and after the end of the match. New balls, 40-over balls and 80-over balls were used in the different light conditions in an attempt to replicate the progression of a day-night Test.
"We have conducted several broadcast trials in recent years which identified the pink ball as the most suitable for use in a day-night Test," James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia CEO said. "However as we move closer to scheduling a match, we felt this was a good opportunity to take advantage of Nine's full-camera set up and help it adequately prepare for a potential day-night Test later this year."
The ICC approved day-night Test cricket in 2012, leaving the finer points up to the participating boards. Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket last year discussed the prospect of playing a day-night Test during New Zealand's tour of Australia in the 2015-16 season, and Cricket Australia has also reportedly raised the possibility with West Indies, who are also touring next summer.
The traditional Boxing Day and New Year's Tests in Melbourne and Sydney will remain unaffected and Perth is also considered an unsuitable venue due to its three-hour time difference from the east coast during summer. There were some issues with visibility of the pink ball at the Gabba during last season's Sheffield Shield trial, leaving Adelaide and Hobart as the most suitable venues.
Cricket Australia is keen to bring Test cricket into the prime-time television schedule on the east coast, which already occurs during WACA Tests and brings a spike in ratings. However, Sutherland has often stressed that he did not consider day-night Test cricket as simply a money-making venture, but rather a way to revitalise the Test game around the world.
"The option to time-shift Test cricket into the evening will only strengthen the position and possibilities for Test cricket in many parts of the world," he said. "There are many Test matches played during non-holiday periods when adults are at work and kids are at school. That's not an ideal way to promote the highest form of the game. In fact there isn't a major team sport in the world that schedules the majority of its premium content during the working week.
"We're not talking about playing the Boxing Day or New Year's Test at night. The summer holiday period in Australia really lends itself to Test cricket, but at other times of the year it can be difficult for fans to attend or watch Test matches, be it here or in other parts of the world. That's really at the heart of the issue. The challenge is to try to make Test cricket more accessible for fans around the world."