Punter sceptical about CA's 'day-night Tests' plan

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Sydney, Dec 13 (UNI) Scoffing at Cricket Australia's (CA) idea of holding Test matches under lights, captain Ricky Ponting has warned the enthusiastic administrators to learn from their unsuccessful experiment of holding day-night first-class matches before trying the same in the traditional format of the game.

In Australia, night matches were played in the Sheffield Shield from 1994-95 to 1998-99, but the batter's struggle for runs under artificial lights was a matter of concern for the Aussie skipper.

''It sounded great at the time, but everyone I've spoken to who played in those games found that they were pretty hard work, especially for the batsmen,'' Ponting told local media.

''There's colour of balls and all that sort of stuff that they have to get on top before they start entertaining the idea of day-night Test matches. The ball one would be one of the biggest issues I imagine.'' In a move that could revolutionise the face of the game and horrify many of the conservative fans, the nation's cricket board is preparing to defy 130 years of tradition by trying out day-night Test matches within three years.

CA Officials are examining the possibility of scheduling games from 2pm-9pm or 3pm-10pm. The move was aimed at tapping the growing audiences attracted to one-day and Twenty20 matches that are threatening to diminish the relevance of the five-day game.

Day-night ODI matches were introduced by Kerry Packer in November 1978, using yellow and later white balls. They have proven to be a hit with TV audiences and crowds who can pick up the game after work.

However, Cricket Austeralia CEO, James Sutherland said the move was not being driven by television rights holder, Nine Network, and claimed he had not spoken with the network about the idea.

Meanwhile, Ponting said world captains have all shown concerned about playing Test matches under lights when the natural light starts to fade.

''If they come up with appropriate measures to cope with a lot of things, we will start entertaining the idea a bit more.'' The Aussie skipper's views were also reiterated by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori, saying he had trouble picking up the red ball at times during last month's series in South Africa.

''We had the lights put on about 4 o'clock and it made it hard,'' he said, adding, ''unless they change the colour of the ball I think it will be difficult.'' However, like Ponting and Vettori, not everyone is against the move, with former Australian captain Ian Chappell throwing his weight behind the idea.

The 64-year-old Aussie legend, who played in the day-night Supertests of World Series Cricket 30 years ago, said though it was a good idea, there is only one major handicap which is the ball.

''Until you fix that (the ball problem) up, and can play 80 to 85 overs with it, you really can't play. If the ball's not right the integrity of the game becomes a bit of a problem,'' Chappell said.

Yellow balls were ones used in the Sheffield Shield competition for the first two seasons. Later it was switched to orange when the players complained that they were unable to spot it in the background of the stadium seats.

However, both the types scuffed too easily and ''behaved differently'' as compared to the red balls. The concept, which was introduced to attract more spectators, was later dumped by the CA officials when the crowd attendance did not show any major jump.

UNI

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