Cricket

ICC head backs day/night tests

2009-12-17 09:38
David Morgan (AFP Photo)

London -International Cricket Council (ICC) president David Morgan expects day/night Test cricket to become a reality within the next two years as a way of countering declining attendances for the five-day game.

Trials with a pink ball for use under floodlights re underway with official determined to boost global interest levels in Test cricket.

Tests remain hugely popular in England and Wales but that is not the case elsewhere in the world where decreasing attendance figures for the longer game have led officials to ponder staging matches at more 'fan-friendly' times.

"The ICC has recognised that in some countries Test cricket is not that popular in terms of people paying at the gate," Morgan told reporters at a meeting of the Indian Journalists' Association at the Oval here on Wednesday.

"We want to ensure Test cricket is as popular around world as it is in England.

"All 10 full board members at the ICC are switched on to improving Test cricket and its attendances.

"If you look at a country like Australia with big stadia and very hot conditions, it's made for day-night Test cricket," Morgan, a former chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, added.

"Eighteen months ago I wouldn't have been overly-enthusiastic about this, thinking of tradition and records.

"But Test cricket has changed over 130 years.

"I'd be surprised if we don't see day-night Test cricket within the next two years - surprised and disappointed."

Test cricket's pre-eminence as the ultimate form of the game has come under challenge from the growing popularity of one-day and Twenty20 internationals, especially on the sub-continent.

But Morgan was adamant Tests remained the premier form of cricket, both in sporting and commercial terms.

"At the ICC we regard Test cricket as the pinnacle of the game - it's the form cricketers seek to play," he said..

"The biggest events are the Ashes and India against Pakistan. They are the big earners and revenues in Test cricket are bigger.

"England against South Africa and South Africa against Australia are not far behind."

Plans for a Test world championship have been discussed by the ICC and although Morgan was wary of the term, he said a "context" was needed for Tests.

"In terms of each Test match having context beyond bilateral series, real progress could be made soon.

"There could well be a climax but I don't know what that will be with any degree of certainty."

Turning to one-day cricket, Morgan added lessons had been learnt from the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, a tournament criticised for being too long and pricing local fans out of matches.

And the final, where Australia beat Sri Lanka, ended in farce after the umpires failed to correctly apply the rules and let the match in Barbados conclude in near-total darkness.

The next World Cup takes place in Asia in two years' time.

"We have learnt a huge amount from the Caribbean World Cup," Morgan said. "It wasn't a success.

"We produced a Champions Trophy in South Africa which was a short, sharp event.

"It would be wrong for the World Cup to be a top eight event - just look at Ireland's success - but we have learnt a great deal from the Caribbean."

Overall, Morgan, while acknowledging security was the gravest problem confronting the game in the light of this year's Lahore attacks, remained upbeat about the state of world cricket.

"I don't think the game has ever been in the health it is in today, it's never been in better health." jdg/nr09

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