Image courtesy of: The Sydney Morning Herald
“There is a lot of work to be done and nothing is guaranteed but this summer’s trials are our first serious effort to make day-night Test cricket a reality”
Cricket Australia have announced plans to trial day-night first-class matches during the upcoming Sheffield Shield season with hopes of playing an actual Test match under floodlights.
According to the board, the ninth round of the Sheffield Shield season will be day-night matches, where pink balls will be used in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.
If the matches are a success, Cricket Australia will organise more day-night games in the 2014-15 season to continue testing the conditions and equipment.
This is the first major step Australia have taken to show their interest in day-night Test matches and, according to reports, they have had talks with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) about organising a day-night Test match when the Black Caps tour Australia at the end of 2015.
“There is a lot of work to be done and nothing is guaranteed but this summer’s trials are our first serious effort to make day-night Test cricket a reality,” Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said. “We’ve also had some discussions with New Zealand Cricket to gauge their interest in the concept over the past few weeks given they are due to tour Australia in late 2015.
“This is all about the fans. Cricket can’t afford to sit on its hands and must keep working hard to ensure Tests remain the most popular form of the game. There isn’t a major team sport in the world that schedules the majority of its premium content during the working week. At least three days of a Test are played when adults are at work and kids are at school.
“No doubt there will be some resistance along the way but for the sake of growing the game in the long term, cricket needs to address the hurdles standing in the way of day-night Test cricket in a rational, mature way.”
Sutherland admitted that there may be challenges along the way, especially over the right type and colour ball used, but added that Cricket Australia remain committed to playing day-night Tests.
“We acknowledge that one of the critical aspects is how the ball wears, behaves and is seen over the course of an innings,” he said. “There are also some concerns about dew on the ground at night. There may need to be some flexibility and compromise to get to the outcome.”
The International Cricket Council (ICC) approved the idea of day-night Tests last year, but clearly stated that the two cricket boards involved had to sort out when play starts and ends and what type and colour ball should be used.
“In encouraging teams to trial Test cricket as day-night matches, the ICC has said it will take a positive and flexible view of any proposed amendments to playing conditions that will allow such trials to proceed,” Sutherland said. “CA’s commitment to Test cricket does not just extend to our men’s team being the best in the world. We also have a responsibility to help grow interest in Test cricket around the world. To achieve this, we need to try and find a way to schedule our premium content at a time when the most number of fans are able to attend and watch.
“The game needs to continue to evolve to meet the needs of its fans. We are not proposing all Tests should be played at night in the long-term, however, there are certain venues and times of the year where day-night Test cricket can potentially enhance and further promote and support the game.”