Night tests at least a year away: ICC

Test cricket in the dark under floodlights is still at least a year away despite optimistic suggestions that next month’s Lord’s test between England and Bangladesh could be a day-night fixture.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 21 Apr 2010, 12:36 AM

Last updated: Mon 27 Nov 2023, 3:44 PM

‘England-Bangladesh has proved a bit premature,’ International Cricket Council (ICC) general manager of cricket Dave Richardson told Reuters in a telephone interview. ‘Certainly it’s not going to happen now.

‘I think that come the English season next year we will certainly be able to say we have a ball that has the traditional qualities of the old and doesn’t lose its colour.’ Last month’s English season curtainraiser between the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and champion county Durham was staged in Abu Dhabi under lights with a pink ball.

A pink ball was first used in a match between MCC and Scotland two years ago and there have been similar experiments since in Australia and West Indies.

The traditional red ball is difficult to pick up in artificial light and, although white balls are used successfully in day-night one-day cricket, the players wear coloured clothing and black sightscreens are employed.

Cricket authorities would prefer test matches to be played in white clothing with white sightscreens, which is why different coloured balls that can be seen clearly against white backgrounds are being trialled.

‘I think it is fair to say there is some work to do to develop a ball that can retain its colour,’ Richardson said.

‘The only way we can play cricket at night is by having a ball which provides enough contrast between its colour and the background.

‘That’s also the reason why you also hear so many people say it’s difficult to bat in twilight conditions because the contrast isn’t big enough between the colour of the ball, no matter what it is, and the background,’ added Richardson.

‘Anecdotal evidence at the moment is probably if we can find a white form that retains its colour or remains clean for longer that will probably be the best option.’


Richardson said the next step was to hold scientific investigations ‘to see what is the best colour, what looks best, what presents the best contrast, is it pink on black, is it pink on white or is it the white ball on the black sightscreen?

‘That’s the trouble with ancedotal evidence, we think we have to back it up with a bit more science.

‘You could go with a synthetic ball which stays nice and bright and white for longer but behaves totally differently to the traditional cricket ball, particularly in test cricket when you want the ball to age and have reverse swing and for the spinners to have their say later in the game,’ said Richardson.

If a white ball is seen as the best option, the debate over coloured clothing in test cricket will be reopened.

The ICC is anxious to promote test cricket in the face of the growing popularity of the Twenty20 game and abandoning white clothing might be seen as a necessary sacrifice.

‘It is a debate we would love to engage in because I am not totally sure of removing the white clothing in test cricket,’ ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat told Reuters on Tuesday.

‘There’s a part of me that still wants to keep that. We need to apply our minds very carefully if we are going to change some fundamentals.

‘I couldn’t venture a guess when but I would say the sooner we could get to a ball that works, the sooner we could get to test cricket on a day-night basis. I am just excited at the concept and we have to be open-minded to new ideas,’ added Lorgat.

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