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Test Cricket Becoming a Day-Night Format a Great Leap for the Sport

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 04:  General view of play at night during day two of the Sheffield Shield match between Queensland and Western Australia at The Gabba on March 4, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Freddie WildeContributor IJuly 2, 2014

Kevin Pietersen's mind has often served as a portent to the future, but when he ridiculed the concept of day-night Test cricket this week on the premise that it would devalue statistics and records, he got it badly wrong. 

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 25:  A view of the new day/night pink ball and the traditional white ball during day three of the Champion County match between Marylebone Cricket Club and Durham at Sheikh Zayed stadium on March 25, 2014 in Abu Dha
Francois Nel/Getty Images

This week's news that Australia and New Zealand are confident of staging the first ever day-night Test match next year is an essential and well overdue development for the format to take.

While the death of Test cricket is hardly yet being realised with the number of Test matches remaining consistent over the last decade, the proliferation of domestic T20 tournaments has pushed the global schedule to breaking point. It would not be wrong to say Test cricket is on the precipice.

While declining gate receipts and empty seats in an age governed by television may not signal the death of the format, they are sad to see.

Admittedly, Test cricket remains of enormous value to television companies thanks largely to its sprawling timescale. However, it attracts fewer viewers than limited-overs cricket and as the T20 gold rush continues, it is the five-day format that may well be the victim of an unsustainable schedule.

Pietersen's concern for the warping of statistics pales into insignificance in the face of the widely held concern for Test cricket's future.

As do concerns revealed this week regarding the suitability of the new pink ball for Test cricket under lights.

Time, money and research must and will solve that problem. 

Most importantly, shifting Test playing hours into the evening and prime time will improve crowd attendance, television viewership and advertising revenue, as post-school and post-work viewers tune in at home and turn up at the grounds. 

The concept may struggle to catch on in England and potentially New Zealand, where the evenings are cooler. However, in Asia, South Africa and certainly the Caribbean, day-night Test cricket could be a game-changer. 

It must be said it has already taken administrators too long to initiate this development.

It should be—but sadly probably won't be—the first of many such changes that help realise the great blank cheque that Test cricket's epic canvas provides television companies and cricket boards alike.

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