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Cricket’s traditional form of international competition moved a step closer to prime-time play after the sport’s governing body said participating nations may now agree to stage day/night Test matches.
The International Cricket Council said yesterday that the home and visiting cricket boards will be able to decide on the timing of the six hours of scheduled play and the precise brand, type and color of ball used in the five-day matches.
Cricket Australia welcomed the move today, saying a later start may boost attendance and television audiences for Tests, at least three days of which typically take place on weekdays and outside prime-time TV slots.
“We limit ourselves by staging cricket’s premium format at times when fans often cannot watch,” Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said in a statement. “CA has a formal strategic plan that demands that Australian cricket puts fans first and we will now add day/night Tests to the agenda when we talk to other Test nations about their future tours down under.”
Finding a suitable ball remains an obstacle to day/night Tests becoming a reality. Cricket authorities require a ball that can be seen against the night sky and the format’s white clothing, while also resisting moisture from dew.
The traditional red ball is not as visible under lights as it is in the day, while the white ball used in one-day internationals doesn’t have the necessary durability for Test matches. Pink, orange and yellow balls have been trialled to varying degree and experiments have seen “some promising developments in recent times,” Cricket Australia said.
Australia trialled colored balls in its leading domestic competitions in the 1990s, abandoning the concept because the yellow and orange balls would lose color and demonstrate extreme swing when affected by evening dew.
“Finding a Test ball that is as easily visible in the day as it is at night is still a technical work in progress that the ICC is now leading and it has not yet been possible to predict when such a ball might be available,” Sutherland added.
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