Australia schedules more domestic pink ball matches

SYDNEY: Flushed with the success of the inaugural day-night test match, Cricket Australia has further embraced the innovation by scheduling another pink ball round of four-day Sheffield Shield matches for mid-February.

More than 123,000 fans passed through the gates at Adelaide Oval over the three days of last month's experimental test against New Zealand, a record for a non-Ashes match.

That far outstripped the paltry crowds for the test against West Indies last week at Bellerive Oval in Hobart as well as the Brisbane and Perth matches against the Black Caps -- all played in more traditional daylight hours.

Round seven of the interstate Sheffield Shield championship will now take place under lights with the WACA in Perth, the Gabba in Brisbane and Adelaide all hosting day-night matches starting on Feb. 14.

"The public's response to the first day-night test was overwhelmingly positive and we've now had some time to evaluate feedback from everyone involved in the match," Cricket Australia's Sean Cary said in a news release.

"As we look ahead to future international seasons and the prospect of playing more test cricket under lights, we want to give our players more opportunities to play with the pink ball.

"These matches will be used as part of our work to keep refining the ball in close consultation with Kookaburra."

Australia and New Zealand players reported that there was more movement from the pink ball under lights in Adelaide, while concerns that it deteriorates more quickly than the red ball have also been expressed.

Such reservations look like doing nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of supporters of day-night cricket for an innovation they see as a potential saviour of the longest form of the game.

Chief among those supporters are Cricket Australia and its chief executive James Sutherland, who has suggested that two tests could be played under lights when Pakistan and South Africa tour next year.

There has also been widespread support from around the world of cricket with International Cricket Council chief David Richardson and India skipper Virat Kohli among those backing the concept.

Round one of Sheffield Shield in October was also played under the lights with matches at Adelaide Oval, Melbourne Cricket Ground and at Bellerive Oval.