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Pink may help ICC clear the Test

Only one final obstacle now prevents the International Cricket Council introducing floodlit day-night Test matches as it confronts dwindling support for the five-day game.

cricket Updated: May 19, 2011 23:32 IST

Only one final obstacle now prevents the International Cricket Council introducing floodlit day-night Test matches as it confronts dwindling support for the five-day game.

Experiments over the past two years have shown that either pink or orange balls in place of the traditional red can be seen clearly under lights.

Now the problem is not visibility but whether the ball can retain its colour for the minimum 80 overs required before the fielding side can ask for a new ball.

Consequently over the next year a pink ball with a black seam, which was used in the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) annual season-opening fixture against county champions Nottinghamshire in Abu Dhabi this year, will be trialled throughout the world.

“This time next year I hope we will be in a position, hopefully, to recommend it be used in a day-night Test match,” ICC general manager Dave Richardson told reporters at Lord’s last week. “The principal aim now is just to confirm that the ball in most conditions can sustain itself for long enough.”

Although Richardson is sanguine about the future of five-day Tests, the reality is that attendances in the 10 Test nations, apart from England, Australia and Bangladesh, have plummeted.

Elsewhere, one-day cricket in either its 50- or 20-over versions is proving popular.

Mindful of the need to preserve the pre-eminence of Test matches, still the form of the game regarded by players and enthusiasts alike as the most satisfying and meaningful, the ICC has concluded that day-night cricket is one way ahead.

Saving tests

“I’m not as pessimistic as some people as far as the necessity to save Test cricket is concerned,” Richardson said.

“I think it affords the boards the opportunity to play Test cricket at times where more people are available to go and watch in the evening sessions. “I know commercially it can be valuable to play at those times of the day.

Prime Time

The hours of six to nine in the evening are prime viewing time and they can charge more for the advertisements during that time.

“Commercially I know it makes sense to be able to play test cricket at that time. The MCC experiment was regarded as a success but the ICC’s cricket committee, headed by West Indian Clive Lloyd, said further Tests were needed in potentially more difficult conditions.