SYDNEY // Cricket Australia (CA) welcomed the prospect of day-night Tests yesterday following a decision by the sport's governing body that paves the way for the longest form the game to be played under lights.
The International Cricket Council announced on Monday that Test-playing nations can now agree to play day-night Test matches, mutually deciding the hours of play and the colour and type of ball used.
The move was included discretely among new playing conditions for Test, one-day and Twenty20 internationals approved by the ICC and which came into effect yesterday.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland - a long-time advocate of day-night Tests - said fans have a better chance of watching matches if they are played at night. He said the ICC decision meant there was one less obstacle to Test matches being moved into the evening.
"Test cricket is by definition played on at least three week days, times when most people are at work or school, and this limits the ability of fans to attend or watch on TV," Sutherland said.
"We limit ourselves by staging cricket's premium format at times when fans often cannot watch. 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."
Sutherland stressed that the ICC decision did not mean that day-night Test matches are imminent.
"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," he said.
The traditional red ball is not regarded as suitable for night cricket because it is not as visible at night as it is in the day, and the ODI white ball is not suitable for Tests as it is not as durable as the red ball and does not last as well as a Test ball needs to last.
For the past three years, the curtain raiser to the English county season - between the champions and an MCC XI - at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Cricket Stadium has used a pink ball under floodlight as a trial experiment.
Sutherland said recent experiments with ball colours - including pink, orange and yellow - have produced some promising results.
* Associated Press