Australia to trial day-night Tests in First-Class matches

James Sutherland said efforts must be taken to keep Test cricket popular among fans © Getty Images

Sydney: Aug 30, 2013

Australia on Friday announced they were closer to hosting day-night Tests as they will stage twilight First-Class matches during the coming domestic season.

Cricket Australia (CA) will trial day-night games during February’s round nine of the Sheffield Shield competition in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne using pink balls. If it proves successful, Australia could hold a day-night Test against New Zealand in late 2015.

CA said it would consider scheduling more twilight First-Class matches in the 2014-15 season to further test out playing conditions and equipment.

“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,” CA Chief Executive James Sutherland said in a statement.

“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.”

He said the International Cricket Council (ICC) was flexible on proposed changes that would allow such trials to proceed. Sutherland said another key issue related to playing cricket at night was the consistency of the ball used.

“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.”

CA is not proposing all Tests should be played at night in the long term, he added.

“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.”

Sutherland said that there was not a major team sport in the world that scheduled 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,” he said.

“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.”