A blockbuster trans-Tasman seven-year deal and prize money of $1 million has convinced New Zealand Cricket to bow to Australia’s wishes for a day-night test.
The deal, announced this morning, includes this year’s five-test home-and-away summer, will reinvigorate the dormant Chappell-Hadlee Trophy and capitalise on New Zealand’s new-found respect on the international scene.
As part of the deal, NZC has agreed to play the world’s first day-night test under the Adelaide Oval lights starting November 27.
New Zealand was initially opposed to the test, not wanting to be pink-ball guinea pigs, but the lure of guaranteed contact with the best team in the world over multiple years was too enticing to take a trenchant position.
In a sweetener to players who have been cynical to the point of hostile about toying with the purity of test cricket, a $1 million prize pool will be put up for the three-test series in Australia.
“It’s fair to say our players are nervous about the day-night test,” said players’ association boss Heath Mills.
“It’s uncharted territory and because of that there will be uncertainty and apprehension.
“While the players have reservations about playing test cricket at night, they see the bigger picture in the new agreement, and the greater good it brings to all levels of the game in New Zealand.”
New Zealand is guaranteed 10 test matches and eight Chappell-Hadlee series (28 ODIs) during the seven-year period and that, ultimately, was the day-night selling point.
“In today’s world, test cricket is relatively inaccessible to the public – particularly during the non-holiday and non-weekend periods,” NZC chief executive David White said.
“This is a concept that allows more people to access the event, either by direct attendance or by watching on television.”
White said the day-night format would not “take over” test cricket but was another step forward in the constant evolution of the game.
“As administrators we owe it to the game to keep exploring ways of moving forward.”
New Zealand hasn’t played a test against Australia since 2011, when they upset the hosts in Hobart to draw a two-test series 1-1.
Despite the creation of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in 2004, it has been even longer since the neighbours have played a bilateral ODI series.
In 2010 Australia won a close-fought series here 3-2.
The day-night concept has been top of Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland’s agenda for some time.
While gates might not initially improve substantially, broadcast partner Channel Nine is expected to reap the benefits of more eyeballs tuning in during primetime.
“It’s a significant breakthrough,” White said.
“NZC and CA worked well together as co-hosts of the ICC Cricket World Cup and the goodwill engendered there has played a major role in this latest agreement.
“It says something about the respect the Black Caps have earned over the past 18 months that we could agree on such a long-term programme.”
The players have at best been lukewarm but Australia coach Darren Lehmann has backed the concept.
“As a coach I’m looking forward to it to see what it brings, looking forward to seeing how both teams perform under lights, and looking forward to seeing a massive crowd,” he said.
The first test will be staged at Brisbane from November 5-9; the second at Perth from November 13-17, with at least two warm-up games under lights using a pink ball – ahead of the historic third Test at Adelaide.
At least two warm-up games will be played under lights using a pink ball before the Adelaide test.
Former Australian captain Greg Chappell has experienced day-night long-form cricket during the packer revolution and was confident it can work.
“Having played under lights in Super Test cricket many years ago, it was a great challenge; a little bit different from normal red ball cricket,” Chappell said.
“It created some challenges for the players, obviously.
You’re playing during the sunlight in the first session of the day, and then progressively it gets darker and then the last session is definitely played in night conditions.”