Day-night test cricket is almost here. Details of today’s announcement and press conference. Sportsfreak comments in italics.
Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket have progressed plans to stage an historic day-night Test match, possibly as early as the 2015-16 season.
Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland and New Zealand Cricket Chief Executive David White met in Melbourne last week during the International Cricket Council (ICC) Annual Conference to discuss the concept.
Mr Sutherland and Mr White are working on plans to stage the match when New Zealand tours Australia in November 2015. The likely venue in Australia is still to be determined, although the Gabba has been ruled out due to the lights there being inferior.
Let’s just hope it’s not, from a New Zealand television perspective, Perth. Adelaide and Hobart would appear to be the prime candidates. There will be day-night warm-up games on this tour.
Trial games in Australia have typically finished at 9:30pm East Australia time.
“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. In fact there isn’t a major team sport in the world that schedules the majority of its premium content during the working week.
Bravo to that
Sutherland also said that Perth tests had a 40% higher viewing audience on the East Coast of Australia, due to the time differences.
“We’re not talking about playing the Boxing Day or New Year’s Test at night. The summer holiday period in Australia really lends itself to Test cricket, but at other times of the year it can be difficult for fans to attend or watch Test matches, be it here or in other parts of the world.
Mr White said Cricket Australia had been at the forefront of exploring a pathway towards day-night Tests and that New Zealand Cricket was looking forward to contributing – especially in terms of helping develop a new pink ball suitable for Test conditions.
“Australia continue to assess conditions to ensure they are appropriate to stage Test cricket at night, and we fully support that duty of care”, said Mr White. There have already been trials in Shield cricket with the pink ball. This season, Round 2, of the Sheffield Shield will be day-nights. Round 2 is at the time of the year that next season’s pencilled in tests will be.
“Ensuring the ball behaves as closely as possible to the red ball is vital for the success of this initiative. It was acknowledged that the ball will behave differently; the focus is to minimise that difference.
There will be the issue of the twilight period, but with day tests, especially early in the season, there is the issue of morning movement
Mr White said there were two good, sound reasons for considering day-night Tests in New Zealand: the increased access for fans, and the commercial advantages of operating in a more appealing time-zone for overseas broadcasting markets.
That last bit makes a lot of sense, but will not sit comfortably with many; Indian pay-masters etc
“We’re scheduling a trial fixture in the upcoming season so we can examine more closely issues such as dew, and its affect on the condition of the ball.” This is unlikely to be a first-class fixture.
He said NZC, along with Cricket Australia, would continue to seek the opinion of players, spectators and broadcasters as they progressed the plan.
White rightly pointed out that test cricket has continued to change over the years (covered pitches, fielding restrictions, DRS etc) and this was merely an extension of that.
And now our friends from Channel 9
Nine Entertainment Co Chief Executive Officer David Gyngell offered support for the concept.
“We of course share the excitement of both Cricket Australia and our friends in New Zealand about day-night Test cricket,” Mr Gyngell said.
“Nine has had a long and proud record as a lead innovator in cricket coverage, and we look forward to playing our part in what could well be a critical new direction in the course of our great game”.
Mark Nicholas was unavailable for comment