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Day/Night Test in England seems happening

LONDON: Prospects of day/night Test cricket being staged in England moved closer to reality on Friday with a trial announced by Warwickshire next month.

The county club will stage one of their Second XI fixtures under lights at Edgbaston.

The August 22-24 fixture against Worcestershire 2nd XI has been moved from Barnt Green to Warwickshire’s Edgbaston headquarters in Birmingham, which has permanent floodlights.

Australia won the inaugural day/night Test when they beat New Zealand by three wickets in Adelaide in November last year.

Doubts, however, remain about the visibility of the pink ball used in floodlit Tests — the standard red ball does not show up well under the floodlights and the white ball used for one-day matches could get ‘lost’ when players are in their traditional ‘whites’ for Test cricket.

There are also particular concerns about whether day/night Tests are necessary in England, when much of the cricket season takes place when the hours of natural daylight are the longest in the year.

Nevertheless, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves remains keen on the idea and officials at Lord’s are keen to look into the subject, as are leading ball manufacturers Dukes and Kookaburra.

Both firms will provide a pink ball for the 2nd XI fixture, with each used for two innings of the match, which will be free to the public.

Alan Fordham, the ECB’s head of cricket operations, said: “Staging first-class matches under lights with a pink ball is a format which has worked well elsewhere in the cricketing world and it’s important we consider ways in which we can attract more people to first class-cricket in the long term.

“We’ll be monitoring this trial match closely and we would like to thank Warwickshire for their support in hosting the fixture.”

Neil Snowball, Warwickshire’s chief executive, added: “The concept of day/night cricket has attracted a large amount of interest around the world and we are keen to support the ECB by exploring the potential for these fixtures in England and Wales.

“We have a long tradition of staging day-night cricket on this ground and this trial game will provide valuable insights for everyone interested in broadening the audience for our first class game.”

Edgbaston hosted the first ever day/night limited-overs match in Britain in 1997, under temporary lights.

But the Birmingham ground now has permanent floodlights and is seen as the most likely venue should England play a home day/night Test. –AFP