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.
The discussions come after the ICC paved the way for member countries to work together on staging Test cricket under lights.
“We are serious about pushing ahead with the concept of day-night Test cricket,” said Mr Sutherland.
“We feel it will only strengthen the position and possibilities for Test cricket in many parts of the world.
“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.
“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.
“That’s really at the heart of the issue. The challenge is to try to make Test cricket more accessible for fans.”
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.
“Ensuring the ball behaves as closely as possible to the red ball is vital for the success of this initiative.
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.
“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.”
He said NZC, along with Cricket Australia, would continue to seek the opinion of players, spectators and broadcasters as they progressed the plan.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said he supported Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket’s idea of playing the day-night Test.
“The discussions on day-night Tests started in 2008 and I’m pleased that after the ICC Board gave its thumbs-up during the 2012 annual conference and following extensive trials and debates, we are now at stage when two of our Members are contemplating playing the first-ever day-night Test,” said Mr Richardson.
“The MCC and some of our Members, including Cricket Australia, have trialled pink balls in different conditions and the feedback indicates that significant improvements have been made to the quality of the ball.”
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.
“It’s something we’ve all kicked around for a considerable period and the time feels right to take the next step.
“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”.