Day-night Tests tickle Bradshaw pink
Keith Bradshaw hopes tomorrow’s match between the MCC and champion county Durham will pave the way for day-night Test cricket in the near future.
Bradshaw, chief executive of the MCC, is in Abu Dhabi to oversee the traditional English season opener - a game which has been given a contemporary makeover with the addition of pink balls and floodlights.
The four-day match, which is also taking place on foreign soil for the first time, represents the highest-profile trial the pink ball has yet undergone.
The hope is that it is both easier to see than the red ball and less prone to scuffing and discolouration than the white ball used for limited-overs cricket.
If that proves to be the case this week, Bradshaw would support calls to fast-track the implementation of evening Test matches.
“The MCC have just done a tour in this region and all the reports that came back on the pink ball were very encouraging,” he said.
“But the proof will be in the pudding, which is over the next few days.
“If the ball stacks up here, performs well, holds its shine and shape and the players have good visibility, then that’s as good a test as any.
“The research we undertook showed there was a willingness among fans to attend day-night Test cricket and that was something boards were attracted to.
“We don’t want to create any expectations of a timescale, because if there are some issues with the ball we don’t want to push too hard and find we’ve created expectations we can’t fulfil.
“But I would like to think that if the tests go well and the ball stacks up that we could implement this fairly quickly.
“I would encourage the ICC and other boards that if the trial goes well, let’s implement it as soon as we can. If it stacks up and we get good reports, then why not?”
Bradshaw admits that Test cricket under lights is an option for Lord’s - and confirmed the summer visit of Bangladesh had been mooted as a possibility for such a fixture.
Yet with the longer game thriving in England in a way many other Test nations cannot match, the aim of the day-night experiment appears to be a regeneration of the format in regions where it is struggling.
“We were very keen to have the Bangladesh Test at Lord’s as a day-nighter but that would be very difficult to do now because the tickets are on sale and people have bought them in the expectation it’s a day Test,” said Bradshaw.
“On the whole, though, we’ve not really looked at this specifically for England but further abroad. Test-match attendances throughout England, and in London in particular, are still very healthy. We’re fortunate in England that we’re not seeing the declining numbers that some other countries are seeing.
“We’re not advocating that every Test is a day-night Test, but it can compliment and certainly add some interest in the sub-continent and other countries.
“I know Australia are keen and have been trialling the concept. James Sutherland (CEO of Cricket Australia) is very keen to push on with the concept and find an appropriate ball.”
Durham captain Will Smith believes the custodians of the game must be careful in their implementation of the concept but accepts it could be a boost to the sport if handled correctly.
“If it goes well out here in 40 degree heat that’s one thing but it would be hard to fully align that to English conditions,” Smith said.
“I think we would need to have a few more steps along the way before we see day-night Test cricket or championship cricket.
“As long as it doesn’t take away from the traditional values and the nuances of the four-day game, which are very important, it must be a good thing.
“If it can bring more spectators in after work then great, but it can’t just be used as a money-making tool - the game still has to be right.”