Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Day-night Test future in the dark
With no pink-ball Tests on the international schedule after this summer, there is a diminishing appetite for the concept beyond Australia's shores
15 August 2019, 12:44 PM AEST
Cricket Australia will continue to preach the day-night Test cricket gospel amidst what appears a waning enthusiasm among overseas boards for the format and a growing possibility it will only be staged in its own backyard in the coming years.
While the absence of pink-ball cricket from the forthcoming Marsh Sheffield Shield season was due largely to the home international schedule, CA's Head of Cricket Operations Peter Roach concedes the concept's lack of uptake internationally is a growing consideration when it comes to domestic fixturing.
Pakistan and New Zealand will this summer attempt to end Australia's undefeated run in Tests under lights, in Adelaide and Perth respectively.
There are no other floodlit Tests currently on the international schedule, reflecting a diminishing appetite for the format outside Australia.
"We're not seeing a lot of these around the world at the moment," Roach told cricket.com.au. "We really are preparing our players for day-night Test matches in our country, because there are few other countries who have expressed the same desire we have to play them."
Pakistan and New Zealand have been among the more willing participants in the short history of pink-ball Tests.
The Kiwis took part in the inaugural day-night clash in 2015 in Adelaide, held one of their own last year and made approaches to both India and England to play another this summer, while Pakistan have hosted two, both in Dubai.
But neither country will play another during their upcoming home Test seasons and there is little eagerness among other nations to arrange them.
India have been opponents to this point and successfully dodged a pink-ball game in Adelaide last year, while England have no plans to play another on their home turf following an initial foray into the format with a day-nighter against West Indies at Edgbaston two years ago.
Tellingly, both England and India have scrapped pink-ball fixtures from their domestic seasons after trials were previously held in the County Championship and the Duleep Trophy.
Elsewhere, long-form cricket under lights does not appear a priority. South Africa and Bangladesh also confirmed to cricket.com.au they have no immediate plans to schedule pink-ball Tests at home.
Teams are permitted to schedule day-night game as part of the new World Test Championship (WTC), but the International Cricket Council requires a "bilateral and mutual agreement" between the boards of both participants for them to proceed.
"If you asked back when we played the first one, (assuming) it was as successful as we would have hoped, would it catch on around the world? You probably would have thought it would have," Roach said.
"It certainly works here, we know that. Regardless of what others are doing, we know the day-night concept works really well in Australia. It's been tried in a couple of places.
"For varying reasons – that can be down to climate, to dew, in some places the night-time weather drops like New Zealand – it just hasn't worked.
"For England, the day format works really well … for other reasons it hasn't worked as well overseas as well as it has here.
"Which is disappointing, and it makes our job harder to have teams agree to playing them over here, because it's a bit more foreign to them."
Roach explained that with only one round of Shield matches squeezed in between the end of Australia's Gillette T20 series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan and the first Test of the summer, there was little opportunity to schedule a round of pink-ball Shield games that would provide meaningful competition for potential Test players this summer.
A three-day game under lights between Australia A and Pakistan at Optus Stadium in November will however provide exactly that – as well as valuable practice for the tourists.
Recent history suggests they'll need all the practice they can fit in; the Aussies have played five day-night Tests (admittedly, all on their home turf) and won each of them.
With the WTC adding extra context to every Test series, Roach hopes Australia's strong record in the format isn't a factor for other countries when it comes to agreeing to play them.
"You can understand some hesitancy there, but … when we go overseas, we try to work with the home board on a schedule that that helps them grow Test cricket. We want Test cricket to continue to flourish like it does in our country," said Roach.
"In every conversation we have with overseas boards, they hear how important day-night Test cricket is to the format and sport in our country.
"And equally we need to be accommodating with some of their wishes, because we're all trying to do the same thing, which is put on a great contest for the fans."