Australia v South Africa Tests

Proteas agree to day-night Test

Adelaide will host second pink-ball Test after South Africa and Cricket Australia agree terms

Dave Middleton

08 June 2016, 03:49 PM

Day-night Proteas Test 'incredibly exciting'

November's Adelaide Test against South Africa will be a day-night affair after Cricket South Africa agreed to play under lights and with the pink ball.

South Africa spearhead Dale Steyn told earlier this year he would "love" to play in a day-night Test match before his stellar career is over and, form and fitness pending, will now get his wish when the Proteas tour for a three-Test Commonwealth Bank Series this summer.

The confirmation from CSA, expected to be officially announced later today, brings to a close months of behind-the-scenes negotiations with Cricket Australia and will see two day-night Tests played in Australia this summer.

Pakistan had already agreed to play the first Test of their three-match series against Australia under lights at the Gabba in December.

Australia captain Steve Smith welcomed the news and said the confirmation of a second day-night Test this summer was "incredibly exciting for all the fans".

Pink ball test match 🏏 Should bring some color to a already great game, exciting times #proteasvsaustralia

A photo posted by DALE STEYN (@dalesteyn) on

"It's going to be a little bit different (but) in the end it's still a Test match," Smith said from Guyana this morning, where Australia had just lost their second match of their ODI tri-series to the Proteas.

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"You just have to sometimes look at maybe some different tactics to go with the game … whether you want to declare a little bit earlier, while it's dark or the sun is going down, get the ball swinging around … different things like that.

"But it's a really exciting form of the game to be playing."

Smith has said there was 2mm too much grass left on the Adelaide pitch last summer and improvements needed to be made to the ball.

"From my point of view as long as we keep continuing to improve the ball … I think the seam was pretty hard to see last year," Smith said.

"They've made some amendments to that, they've made it a black seam now. Hopefully it's a bit easier to see and as long as we can continue to improve the ball, then I think it's going to be a great form of cricket."

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South Africa's initial reluctance stemmed from their lack of experience using a pink cricket ball. While Australia has been trialling the pink Kookaburra in Sheffield Shield for several years and played last summer's first ever day-night Test against New Zealand, the South Africans have had no such opportunity.

However, the Proteas squad will open their tour of Australia with a two-day practice match under lights and will play a second two-day match under lights between the second and third Tests to give them the maximum possible preparation time.

The pink Kookaburra will also be used in the first unofficial Test between South Africa A and Australia A at Brisbane's Allan Border Field starting July 30. However, this will not be a day-night fixture. Proteas contenders Temba Bavuma, Dean Elgar, Vernon Philander and Wayne Parnell are among those named in a strong South Africa A squad for the fixture.

Proteas skipper AB de Villiers said the South Africa players were now confident they would have adequate preparation.

"We were never against this exciting concept, but only wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity of competing in conditions that will be new and foreign to us," de Villiers said in a statement released by CSA.

"Two warm-up matches will hopefully give us an idea of what to expect and hopefully our preparations will help us to adapt accordingly. 

"This will be the first time that our players in the Test squad will play pink-ball Test match cricket in front of such a large crowd and to be part of this novel concept will no doubt be a landmark moment in all of our careers." 

Steyn told in April he was confident "one, maybe two first-class games" with the pink ball would be more than enough preparation for a day-night Test match.

Quick Single: Steyn would 'love' to play day-night Tests

"I don't want to go through my whole career without playing a day-night game," Steyn told exclusively in Rajkot.

"How cool are they? I thought it looked awesome when New Zealand and Australia played one.

"It looked entertaining, there was a big crowd.

"The ball is pink – it's something different. You want to test your skills with that whole thing and it's very exciting."

Despite their unfamiliarity with the pink ball, New Zealand almost pulled off an upset win in the inaugrual day-night match, falling gallantly to Australia by three wickets in the final session on day three.

A similar type of lead-up to what New Zealand enjoyed - the Black Caps played the Prime Ministers XI match with a pink ball, and a second two-day warm-up in WA - would be all South Africa would need to prime themselves for a day-night Test, according to Steyn.

"Absolutely," Steyn said when asked if a couple of first-class games would be enough to be ready for a twilight Test. 

"I think maybe even one game so the boys can get accustomed to it.

"You can practice as much as you want in the nets but when you get out into the middle and there's pressure and all that kind of stuff you do tend to play differently.

"One first-class game, maybe two first-class games and it think the boys will be extremely into it."

Australia's domestic cricket schedule is yet to be confirmed but it is believed there will be another day-night Sheffield Shield round early in the summer.

CSA Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said providing adequate preparation for the touring Proteas was the key.

"Following careful consideration and engagement with all our Test players, and recognising the need to exploit the potential of playing day-night Test cricket, I am pleased to announce that we have agreed with Cricket Australia to proceed with this fixture.

"Our Proteas were initially hesitant to play such a key Test match without previous experience and adequate preparation but after working through all their concerns and possible options to prepare sufficiently, there is new-found excitement for this novel Test match.

"Our players deserve credit for the way they have worked through the issues which were clearly not insignificant."

CA Chief Executive James Sutherland celebrated the confirmation of the day-night fixture as a victory for fans.

"It's wonderful that the next day-night Test in Australia will be against South Africa," Sutherland said. "This announcement will further fuel the excitement about what promises to be a fascinating series between formidable rivals.

"I would like to acknowledge the open manner in which Cricket South Africa and the South African Cricketers Association have worked through this matter with us. We look forward to welcoming the South African players to Australia in late October and offering them the best possible preparation ahead of the series."

Tickets for the bulk of the 2016-17 international summer are already on sale and CA confirmed the day-night Adelaide Test would go on sale later this month.

Australian Cricket Family Gold members will be able to purchase tickets from June 21, and ACF Green members from 24 hours later. General public tickets will be on sale from noon on June 27.

Meg Lanning Steve Smith