JOHANNESBURG: The introduction of day-night Tests edged closer Wednesday when an International Cricket Council ICC) board meeting here called for further research on the subject.
In the changing landscape of the game, triggered by the rapidly growing popularity of Twenty20 fare, the five-day and oldest version has remained a daytime affair.
A statement released after the two-day board meeting in a north Johannesburg hotel said there will be "further research into various proposals for product development and variation of Test cricket, including day-night Test matches".
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat will chair a working group that includes a representative from each of the 10 full members plus council general managers Campbell Jamieson (commercial) and Dave Richardson (cricket).
While Tests are the traditional bedrock of cricket and England and Australia often attract large crowds, embarrassingly small attendances are seen at other worldwide venues.
Multi-award-winning Australia captain Ricky Ponting speaks for many world stars when he says Test cricket is his favourite form of the game ahead of the two shorter varieties.
While a Test delivers cricket in its purest form, it lacks the spectator appeal of the one-day and half-day formats and the ICC statement said product research and analysis of the three disciplines would be done.
The 50-over version, seen by some like former Australia wicket wizard Shane Warne as that in most danger, got a timely boost when ICC president David Morgan lauded the Champions Trophy that ended in South Africa Monday.
Australia became the first country to successfully defend the mini-World Cup with a Shane Watson-inspired six-wicket victory over New Zealand after the event was cut to the top eight ranked teams and staged over two weeks.
"The cricket was enthralling and the feedback on the event from players and followers of the game has been overwhelmingly positive. I believe the cricket world enjoyed this rebranded competition as I did," boasted Morgan.
"England captain Andrew Strauss recalling Angelo Mathews and New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori withdrawing the run-out appeal against Paul Collingwood reflect the magnificent spirit in which the matches were played."
The board considered the anti-doping code and said while more debate was needed, the ICC "maintains a zero-tolerance approach to doping in cricket and in-competition and out-of-competition drug testing will continue as usual".
ICC support of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) "anywhere-anytime" test approach conflicts with India, who claim it threatens the security of players, many of whom enjoy celebrity status, and infringes civil liberties.
The board said it would continue work on creating a post-2012 Future Tours Programme (FTP) for the 10 full members and consider ways in which greater context can be given to Test, ODI and T20 fixtures.