Australia considering day-night test matches
SYDNEY – Australia are considering introducing day-night test matches to try and halt the declining interest in the game.
Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland said officials wanted to cash in on the popularity of one-day and Twenty20 cricket by staging tests at night.
Sutherland said the plan was still in its infancy but he hoped to trial the idea within the next three years.
“We are tossing it around and working out the fundamentals,” Sutherland told The Australian newspaper on Thursday.
“In a realistic sense, we don’t see any reason why we can’t be at least trialling some day-night test cricket matches, not necessarily all of them, before the end of the decade.
“It could happen sooner, I don’t know. We need to explore that and go through a consultative process.”
Although test matches have been played in daylight for the past 130 years, one-day games have been played under floodlights since the late 1970s.
While ticket sales for test matches have been steadily dwindling around the world, one-day and Twenty20 still enjoy enormous support.
Tuesday’s Twenty20 match between Australia and New Zealand in Perth was sold out and a bigger hit with television audiences.
Sutherland said it was inevitable that test cricket needed to change with the times but stopped short of calling for an end to daytime tests.
“Cricket is sport but it’s also entertainment and as administrators our responsibility is to meet customers’ needs,” he said.
“I am saying that in order to meet consumer demands and to satisfy, if not fuel, consumer interests in the game it would appear there are many good reasons why we should be playing test cricket at night.”
One of the biggest obstacles could be finding a ball that can be seen at night after being used all day. Red balls are used for test matches but can’t be seen against a darkened sky.
White balls are currently used for one-day matches but don’t retain their colour long, making it hard for the batsmen to see them when the light starts to fade.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he was opposed to playing tests at night.
“I’m a bit of a traditionalist,” he told The Australian.
“I wouldn’t like to be changing the way test cricket is looked at and played too much.
“We had day-night (first-class) games a while ago, although I didn’t play in them.
“They played a lot in Perth, they played a lot in Brisbane, and by all accounts they were a nightmare for all the batsmen.”