Floodlit Tests ignite debate

Windhoek – Could Test cricket soon be played under floodlights?
As shorter versions of the game gain popularity, there is a growing lobby for Tests to take a day-night format in a bid to retain live spectator and TV viewer interest.
With the blessing of the International Cricket Council, a resurgent Zimbabwe could be the first to experience a floodlit Test match during the tour of New Zealand starting January 20.
Research shows it is possible to play Tests under floodlights with a pink ball instead of the conventional white one.
A director on the New Zealand Cricket board, John Stephenson, recently told ESPNcricinfo “If that happens and it goes well and if New Zealand Cricket and the International Cricket Council are all happy we’re hoping that might be the precursor to New Zealand playing Zimbabwe in a Test match under lights at the end of January.”
Test crowds have been on the wane, even in cricket-mad nations like India.
Fans seem to prefer T20s and ODIs as they get over and done with quicker. Tests require greater concentration over several days and this has resulted in falling spectator interest.
(However, connoisseurs insist Tests are better than other formats because of the greater player concentration.)
Sri Lanka’s ongoing tour of South Africa, consisting three Test and five ODI matches has reignited calls for floodlit games.
In a debate during SuperSport’s broadcast of the third South Africa-Sri Lanka Test, analysts and commentators Mike Haysman, Mpumelelo Mbangwa and Russel Arnold said there was no reason not to move towards floodlit Tests.
Top players are, in increasing numbers, retiring from Tests to concentrate on shorter formats – which pay more and are not as physically exacting.
Sri Lankan fast-bowler Lasith Malinga and West Indian batsman Chris Gyle have taken this route.
There are concerns about floodlit Tests.
Experts would like to know the effects of the side-screen to batsmen in the evening and how pitch deterioration will affect performance.

January 2012
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