With the turnout in the opening Test not quite up to their expectation, Cricket Australia have urged India to reconsider their opposition to day-night Tests and play under lights in Adelaide in their next tour Down Under.
Officials in Australia said they were worried after a modest 23,802 turned out for the opening day of the Test series in Adelaide on Thursday, the lowest day-one attendance since the venue was redeveloped in 2013.
There were 55,000 for day one of the Ashes opener in Adelaide last year, 32,255 on the corresponding day against South Africa a year earlier and 47,441 for the first year against New Zealand, the CA stated.
Thursday’s attendance was also lower than the 25,619 who turned up for an India-Australia clash here four years ago (which was a day match).
Asked if the poor crowd attendance had convinced him that the Adelaide Test should be day-night, Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said: “Absolutely. It matters what the fans think and they’ve voted with their feet. Those numbers (in previous years) are incredible.”
“No doubt we have lost that particular group of fans (who like day-night Tests) for this Test. We are looking forward to the day-night Test coming back to Adelaide,” he told SEN Radio.
Roberts said he hoped that the BCCI would agree to a day-night for the next tour here in 2020-21.
“Let’s hope so. We will take it one step at a time. We embrace that they (BCCI) have a different view of this Test match but we hope in time, with the sentiment from fans, we can have a day-night Test,” he said.
“We hope that the sentiment from fans is something India can see,” he added.
India continues to reject playing with a pink ball, whether at home or on the road. As Australia played four Tests under lights, the BCCI felt the home side would have had an unfair advantage this summer if the Indians played with the pink ball here.
Under current ICC rules, the touring team can deny the home board’s fixture requests, but that may change from next year when the new future tours programme begins.
There were mitigating circumstances with temperatures in Adelaide hitting a stifling 40 degrees but Roberts blamed it on fewer inter-state visitors who would have come for a night-time spectacle.
“We think we would’ve had 15,000 or so interstate visitors if it was a day-night Test so there’s no doubting we’ve lost that group of fans,” he said.
Roberts also raised fears about next week’s Test (December 14-18) in Perth, claiming that the ticket sales have not been going too well despite this being the debut Test at the new Perth stadium where the capacity is 60,000.
He said there were “challenges” in Perth but hoped an exciting Adelaide clash would prompt fans to head to the venue which has replaced the WACA.
“I would suggest it’s something to do with that it’s not a regular fixture on the calendar, it’s a new venue, it’s close to Christmas. Hopefully, it goes for five days here (in Adelaide) and the cricket community are inspired to attend in bigger numbers than what we suspect,” Roberts said.
The Western Australian Cricket Association has predicted a 40,000 turnout on day one of next week’s Test — with the third tier to be closed to the public in a bid to provide a greater vibe — but Roberts appears to have cast doubt on that.
What has left the CA stumped is the lack of overall support so far from the strong Indian contingent living in Perth.
“You look at the way fans have embraced it. I am an advocate for day-night Test cricket but it doesn’t matter what I think, it’s what the fans think,” he said.
Roberts said he had been “proud” of the manner in which the Australian team had conducted itself in the field, having “walked a tight-rope” over its behaviour and culture since the disastrous South African tour.