SYDNEY, (Reuters) – Australia will trial day-night matches in the domestic Sheffield Shield competition later this year with a view to playing tests against New Zealand under lights in 2015-16, Cricket Australia (CA) said yesterday.
The three four-day matches will be played using a pink ball with further trials to take place in the 2014-15 domestic season as CA looks to maximise exposure of long-form cricket to television audiences.
“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 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.
“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.”
A previous experiment with day-night Sheffield Shield matches in the 1990s was scrapped after problems with yellow and orange balls, which lost colour and were affected by the evening dew.
Sutherland accepted there would be resistance to the plans and conceded there were still some issues with the ball that would need to be resolved.
“Cricket needs to address the hurdles standing in the way of day-night test cricket in a rational, mature way,” he added.
“We acknowledge that one of the critical aspects is how the ball wears, behaves and is seen over the course of an innings.
“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.”
Sutherland said day-night test cricket would benefit the game worldwide but did not foresee an end to the tradition of watching test cricket over a long summer day.
“We are not proposing all tests should be played at night in the long term,” he said.
“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.”