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A day-night Test at the WACA Ground? // Getty

Perth pink-ball Test a chance: CA chief

The new Perth stadium could stage a day-night Test in the future says James Sutherland

Perth could be in line to host a pink-ball Test match in the foreseeable future with its soon-to-be completed stadium more suitable for twilight Test cricket than the WACA Ground, according to Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland.

It has been widely believed there was little appetite at CA for day-night Test cricket in the Western Australia capital due to the summer time difference that enables the final session of each day's play to be broadcast live into the lucrative eastern states viewing market in prime time.

But Sutherland has told cricket.com.au that another factor precluding Perth from staging a Test match under lights was the impact of late afternoon shadows that stretched across the WACA, ironically due in large part to its huge concrete light towers that posed viewing problems for players and broadcasters.

With the upcoming Ashes Test in December to be the last big-ticket international match staged at the WACA before the new stadium at nearby Burswood is completed, Sutherland has indicated that CA will consider scheduling day-night Tests in Perth.

Even if the three-hour summertime difference between Perth and the nation's biggest cities means that a pink ball Test in WA would start around midday (and therefore conclude around 10pm on the eastern seaboard) rather than the early-afternoon starting time employed in previous day-night Tests in Adelaide and Brisbane.

It also raises the possibility of three Tests in a five-Test summer (such as the upcoming Ashes campaign) being staged as day-night matches outside the peak holiday period, while the traditional Melbourne (Boxing Day) and Sydney (New Year) Tests will retain their daytime format.

"The new Perth stadium, when it comes on board … won't have many of the effects of shadows on the ground that you would otherwise have at the WACA," Sutherland told cricket.com.au.

"So there is actually possibilities there of shifting that one into later evening, even just starting it an hour or two later.

"That's a possibility, but we haven't thought about anything different for Melbourne and Sydney."

Since the first day-night Test match was staged in Adelaide two years ago, the concept has won strong support in Australia where Adelaide Oval has established itself as a 'destination Test match' and Brisbane drew its largest Test crowd match outside an Ashes match to last summer's inaugural pink ball fixture against Pakistan.

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Day-night Tests have also followed in Dubai and in England (at Edgbaston earlier this year), with New Zealand Cricket announcing last month they will host their first pink-ball Test in March next year when the Black Caps play England at Eden Park in Auckland.

Sutherland also reiterated CA's commitment to maintaining the domestic 50-over JLT One-Day Cup competition in its current scheduling window of September-October but ruled out expanding the seven-team tournament to include a developing national outfit such as Papua New Guinea.

He said the competition, which begins in Brisbane in the week prior to the AFL and NRL grand finals and this year also features matches in Sydney, Perth and Hobart, remained an essential element of Australia's ODI planning and preparations that culminate in the quadrennial ICC World Cup.

The domestic tournament has also drawn the ire of some past and current players for the decision, made two summers ago, to include a Cricket Australia XI comprising young players who have not received state contracts, with that outfit posting just one victory in two seasons.

"I think it's working well," Sutherland said when asked whether there were plans to alter the format or timing of the JLT One-Day Cup.

"There will always be debate about whether it should have a higher profile or be played at a different time of the year, but we're pretty comfortable about it being played as a season opener.

"And in this sort of structure (a round-robin event with two sudden-death finals) it replicates the tournament format that you see in a Champions Trophy or a World Cup.

"We think that's important."

The continued growth of cricket among Australia's near neighbours, with Vanuatu this week earning promotion to Division Four of the ICC's World Cricket League by defeating Italy, has added weight to ex-Test fast bowler Jason Gillespie's call for PNG (who he is currently coaching) to be included in future iterations of the JLT One-Day Cup.

 

But Sutherland said further expansion of the domestic 50-over competition was not on CA's agenda in the foreseeable future, though he noted that regional teams like PNG (already competing successfully in South Australia's West End Redbacks League) would be involved in qualifying for the ICC's World T20 event.

"It's probably not something we've considered," Sutherland said of further expanding the domestic 50-over competition.

"We've got a CA XI that plays in the tournament that allows players who haven't been selected in their state teams at the start of the year - but who are still going to have an important role to play in future Australian teams or their state squads over the course of the summer - to get some cricket in at the start of the year.

"Our focus will be on domestic cricketers and their preparation with this tournament but, that said, some of the developments at ICC level in recent times we see as being good for the game with new countries coming into Test cricket and now a one-day championship being contemplated.

 

"That will allow some of these countries that have been on the fringe, but haven't been able to get international competition, to have that built in on a compulsory, structured basis.

"And while PNG aren't quite in the mix there, they are likely to be part of our T20 qualifying events that will be played at regional level every two to four years, and that will provide some great experiences for a country like PNG."