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Ashes 2017 may witness a day-night Test as Australia, England discuss plan

Discussions over whether Australia will host England in a first day-night Ashes Test next year are taking place but nothing has been decided yet, Cricket Australia (CA) said. England head Down Under next November for the 2017-18 series and local media reported that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had agreed in principle to play one of the matches under lights.

cricket Updated: Dec 01, 2016 10:38 IST
Australia vs England

Australia has been hosting day-night Test matches with a lot of commercial success, the latest being the third Test against South Africa at the Adelaide Oval. Australians are keen to have a day-night Test when they host England in the Ashes next year.(AFP)

Discussions over whether Australia will host England in a first day-night Ashes cricket Test next year are taking place but nothing has been decided yet, Cricket Australia (CA) said on Thursday.

England head Down Under next November for the 2017-18 series and local media reported on Thursday that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had agreed in principle to play one of the matches under lights.

Highlights
  • Possibility of first Ashes test under lights.
  • Ashes series itinerary still to be confirmed.
  • ustralia captain, coach support pink ball matches.

A CA spokesman, however, said there had not been an agreement yet and the tour itinerary was still being finalised, though a day-night Test was part of the discussions.

“Ongoing scheduling of day-night Tests in the Australian summer is a natural progression,” the spokesman said.

“The Ashes is a great contest and attracts huge audiences both at the ground and on television, but nothing has yet been confirmed for next summer.”

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CA have hosted two day-night Tests under lights over the last two seasons, both of which have been a commercial success with large numbers attending the matches against New Zealand and South Africa.

While both games were at the Adelaide Oval, making it favourite to host a day-night Ashes test, Brisbane’s The Gabba will host its first pink ball Test later this month when Australia play Pakistan.

England are to host their first day-night Test next August at Edgbaston against the West Indies.

Alastair Cook, the England captain, said earlier this year he was against playing an Ashes test under lights in comments echoed by Australian counterpart Steve Smith.

Both felt the traditional rivalry, the oldest in world cricket, generated enough interest.

However, CA chief executive James Sutherland, a major proponent of pink-ball cricket, said the success of the two Adelaide Oval games indicated the desire for at least one day-night Test.

Read more | Usman Khawaja becomes first Australian to hit century in a Pink Ball Test

“The scheduling of day-night Tests has been driven by a desire to make test cricket more accessible, so it is wonderful to see the format resonate with so many of our fans,” Sutherland said after the South Africa game ended on Sunday.

Smith also told local media on Thursday he felt pink ball cricket was here to stay, particularly given the way lessons learned from last year’s match against New Zealand had been applied.

The inaugural day-night Test lasted just three days with the twilight drastically affecting the movement of the pink ball, while batsmen also said they found it hard to see under lights.

The match against South Africa lasted four days and an improved ball did not move around as much in the evening session, nor get scuffed up by the pitch.

“I’ve always said we need to get the product as right as we can and the ball in as good a shape as we can and I think they’ve made some good improvements with that,” Smith said.

“This year’s game was outstanding. Slightly less grass than the year before and it was almost the perfect test wicket. There was enough in it for everyone; both bat, ball, the ball spun.