WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s top players are overwhelmingly against plans to play “day-night” Test cricket when they tour Australia this year, fearing it will “devalue” the game, the New Zealand Cricket Players Association said Thursday.
The concept of day-night cricket played under lights using a pink ball has been enthusiastically promoted by Cricket Australia (CA), which is keen to bring the five-day game to prime-time television audiences.
CA trialled day-night first class cricket in the 2014-15 Sheffield Shield season with a view to staging the first ever Test under lights when New Zealand tour Australia in November.
But NZ players’ association chief executive Heath Mills said the Blacks Caps were sceptical.
“We were asked by New Zealand Cricket to get the thoughts of the players a few months ago,” he told AFP.
“The results were overwhelmingly not supportive of playing day-night Test cricket.”
New Zealand are set to play three Tests in Australia, with Adelaide regarded as the front-runner to host a day-nighter.
Mills said New Zealand cricketers viewed a Test series against Australia as “the pinnacle” and wanted it played under traditional rules.
“It’s sort of our Ashes series, we don’t play Australia often (the last Test series between the teams was 2011/12), so it’s a rare chance to go up against them,” he said.
“For some of these players, it’s going to be the most important Test series of their careers. They don’t want anything that could be seen to devalue it.
“To play it under lights, with a pink ball, in conditions they’re not familiar with, makes it feel like a bit of an exhibition, as opposed to part of a very intense Test series.”
Mills said they had also received negative feedback from Australian players about the pink ball, an innovation designed to make it more visible than the traditional red ball.
And there was also concern the experiment was being pushed by Cricket Australia rather than the International Cricket Council (ICC) as part of a broader strategy.
“If we’re worried about the popularity of Test cricket, we’d like to think the ICC would lead a collective review, rather than individual countries going off their own way in ad hoc directions,” he said.
But he added that if Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket decided to proceed with the match then the players would participate, despite their reservations.
“But the players have these questions, particularly since we already have two formats of the sport that we already play at night and we’re very innovative around,” he said.
Cricket Australia said it was pushing ahead with the day-night Test plans.
“CA and NZ Cricket are serious about pushing ahead with the concept of day-night Test cricket,” a CA spokesman said.
“We feel it will only strengthen the position and possibilities for Test cricket in many parts of the world.
“The challenge is to try to make Test cricket more accessible for fans.”
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