Australia and New Zealand cricket officials say their national teams will likely to meet in the world’s first day-night Test match in November next year, either at Hobart or Adelaide.
James Sutherland, Cricket Australia chief, and his New Zealand Cricket counterpart David White said Monday that talks in Melbourne last week advanced plans for the match and both countries “are supportive of the innovation and its clear benefits.”
New Zealand is scheduled to tour Australia from late 2015 and Sutherland said the venue for the historic match had been narrowed down to the Adelaide Oval or Hobart’s Blundstone Arena. Play would likely begin at 2 p.m. each day and a pink ball will be used.
“We are serious about pushing ahead with the concept of day-night Test cricket,” Sutherland said.
“We feel it will only strengthen the position and possibilities for Test cricket in many parts of the world,” he added. “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.”
Sutherland said there was no intention of shifting Australia’s marquee Boxing Day or New Year Test matches to a day-night format “given they are staged at the peak of holiday season,” but matches in non-holiday periods would be considered.
He said data showed annual Tests at Perth, Western Australia, which ends at around 9 p.m. Australian east coast time each day, rated 40 percent higher than other matches played at the same time of year.
“We believe that’s evidence in itself that we’ll get greater viewership and more opportunities for people to attend,” Sutherland said.
He accepted cricket traditionalists might not support day-night Test matches, but believed the commercial and other benefits outweighed reservations about tradition.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to get to a stage where everyone is completely satisfied or comfortable with it,” Sutherland said.
“But I think if we go back 30-odd years in time when the first-ever day-night one-day internationals were played, I’m sure there was that same level of trepidation among some stakeholders including players about things like day-night cricket and white ball,” he said.
White said tradition was not in itself an excuse to reject innovation.
“People have talked about messing with the traditions of Test cricket,” he said. “But since it was first played in (1877) there’s been significant changes – covered pitches, fielding restrictions, over limits, introduction of helmets, change in the no-ball law etc.
“I think as administrators we must keep evolving and improving the game for our stakeholders. We need to be mindful of change, but keep an open mind on these things.”
Sutherland said trials would continue to develop a pink ball, which closely mirrors the performance of the red ball currently used in Test cricket. Trials had already been carried out in Australia’s domestic Sheffield Shield competition and those would likely continue in Australia and New Zealand this year.
He said consultation will also continue with both nations’ players’ associations, the ICC, fans and broadcasters.