Melbourne - Cricket Australia chief
executive James Sutherland wants players to remain open-minded about day-night
Test matches during the 2017-18 Ashes series in Australia.
Sutherland said he respected the concern of
Australia captain Steve Smith and others, but reiterated that a pink-ball Ashes
test would be a "natural progression."
Australia hosted the first day-night Test
at the Adelaide Oval last year, beating New Zealand in a low-scoring match.
The venue will host another day-night Test
in November, after South African players ended weeks of debate by agreeing
Wednesday to be involved.
On Thursday, Sutherland said day-night
Tests will allow for bigger audiences at the matches and on television and
predicted there'd be "somewhere between zero and two" day-night tests
during the next Ashes series.
He spoke after Smith, playing in the West
Indies in a limited-overs tri-series, said the Ashes "works pretty well
with the red (regular) ball ... playing against England, we always get the
viewers and the crowds out, so I don't think there is any issue there."
England captain Alastair Cook has also
indicated he'd like the 2017-18 Ashes series to be all traditional day matches.
Dates haven't been announced for that series.
The Adelaide day-night test last year was
completed in three days, but drew 124 000 spectators and television ratings
were also favourable.
"I think there's a natural progression
for us to get to a stage where Ashes test matches are played as day-night
games," Sutherland said. "The players are clearly an important
stakeholder and I respect the views of Steven and Alastair in saying that. The
Ashes is a great contest, and (it) will no doubt attract huge audiences both at
the ground and on television.
"But I think the facts of the matter
are that by playing a day-night Test match you're actually going to get bigger
audiences at the game and on television. It even time-shifts games into a more
appealing time of day in the UK That's another factor we need to
Australia will host three Tests against
South Africa in November, with the series concluding in Adelaide from November
24, and will kick off a three-Test series against Pakistan with a day-night match
in Brisbane starting December 15.
South African players had been reluctant to
play the Adelaide Test after informal feedback from Australian players who had
issues with the pink ball's visibility and durability in the Adelaide Test.
Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon
Lorgat said the Proteas were initially hesitant to play 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 newfound
excitement for this novel test match," Lorgat said. "Our players
deserve credit for the way they have worked through the issues which were
clearly not insignificant."
Referring to the South Africa announcement,
Smith said he hoped for better visibility with the pink ball in the Adelaide
match this year.
"As long as we keep continuing to
improve the ball," the balance between bat and ball will improve, he said.
"The seam was pretty hard to see last year - they've made it a black seam
now, they've changed that up. Hopefully it's a bit easier to see. As long as we
can continue to improve the ball, I think it's going to be a great form of