The coming year can be a watershed moment in the history of one of the biggest series in Test cricket as the first Test of next year’s Ashes is all set to be a day-night affair.
As per reports in Australian media, both Cricket Australia (CA) and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have agreed to play the first Ashes Test under floodlights. While the schedule has not been confirmed yet, Adelaide, which has hosted both the day-night Tests played in Australia, is in line to host the day-nighter.
As quoted in the official site of CA, a spokesperson of the cricket body said:“Piecing together the summer schedule is a complex task. In 2017-18 England will tour for a men’s and women’s Ashes series and then compete in limited-overs matches. We expect to be in a position to announce this schedule over the coming months once agreements are in place.”
“The concept of day-night Test cricket is to put fans first and make the game more accessible for people to come after work or school. More than 125,000 people attended the third Commonwealth Bank day-night Test match in Adelaide this year and there has been great anticipation about future day-night Tests.”
“We have two day-night Tests this year and ongoing scheduling of day-night Tests in the Australian summer is a natural progression. The Ashes is a great contest and attracts huge audiences both at the ground and on television, but nothing has yet been confirmed for next summer,” the spokesperson added.
While the latest innovation is seen as a potential measure to draw the crowd to the stadium once again, Steven Smith and Alastair Cook have expressed their reservation over making the historic series a pink ball affair.
“I think it works pretty well with the red ball. It’s been around for years and I think playing against England we always get the viewers and the crowds out,” Smith said in June.
“So I don’t think there is any issue there. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” he added.
On the other hand, England skipper Alastair Cook in June had said:“A lot of the games have really good attendances, so I don’t think that’s a series where you need to do it at this precise moment in time.”
Expressing his concern over the pink ball, he had said:“The biggest problem I have with it is the quality of the pink ball. I don’t mean any disrespect to those making it, but on the two occasions I have played with it, it didn’t behave the same way as the red ball. That is one of the great things about Test cricket, the ball. Sometimes it swings conventionally, sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes it reverses. The pink ball I played with didn’t do anything like that.”
But both the players will take heart from the way the last day-night Test match between the Aussies and South Africa panned out. While the inaugural day-nighter between the Aussies and New Zealand lasted just three days and was marred by claims that the ball was behaving differently, the Test between the Proteas and the hosts was a much better one in every context.
Australia skipper Steven Smith, who had previously voiced his concern over the pink ball, was in its favour after the match against the Proteas.
He said:“I’ve always said we need to get the product as right as we can and the ball in as good a shape as we can and I think they’ve made some good improvements with that.”
‘This year’s game was outstanding. Slightly less grass than the year before and it was almost the perfect Test wicket. There was enough in it for everyone; both bat, ball, the ball spun. So it was a wicket for everyone and that’s what you want to see; an even contest. I think it’s certainly here to stay,” he added.
Here is a provisional itinerary for the Ashes series 2017-18, issued by CA’s official website:
First Test: November 23-27, Brisbane
Second Test: December 2-6, Adelaide
Third Test: December 14-18, Perth
Fourth Test: December 26-30, Melbourne
Fifth Test: January 4-8, 2018, Sydney