NEWS

First day-night Ashes Test confirmed

December 13, 2016

The first ever day-night Ashes Test played with a pink ball will take place next winter, when England go down under to defend the urn.

Cricket Australia has confirmed that the Adelaide Oval will once again be the venue for the match, having hosted the first ever day-night Test last year when New Zealand were the visitors and a second against South Africa last month.

The venue is not the only one to host a day-night Test, with Pakistan facing the West Indies in Dubai in October. However, the fact that Australia has twice done so may be seen as giving them an advantage.

England will not go into the match without experience of pink ball cricket, however, with Edgbaston set to England's first day-night Test next summer when the West Indies are the visitors. Corporate hospitality packages are now available for what will be an historic and fascinating experience for fans in the UK.

Moreover, many players in the England squad may have experience of playing day-night first-class games in the UAE in the MCC versus Champion County match.  

The experience of playing with a pink ball has itself changed. In the inaugural day-night Test, the ball had green stitches in the seam, which players said afterwards made it harder to see, while the pitch had a lot of grass left on it, partly to increase the colour contrast but with the result being a lot of sideways movement. While the team scores were not outrageously low - the totals being 202, 224, 208 and 187 for seven as Australia won by three wickets - they were unusual for Adelaide, which tends to produce high-scoring games.

However, less grass was on the pitch for the South Africa Test and the black seam is regarded as better visually. Ball manufacturers Kookaburra added an extra coat of varnish to make the ball shinier. Such innovations are likely to be copied by Dukes, the provider of balls for Test matches in England.   

The Adelaide Test in early December will be the second in the Ashes itinerary, following the opening Test next November in Brisbane and followed by the third Test in Perth, where a new venue is being built to replace the WACA. The Melbourne Cricket Ground will host the fourth Test starting on Boxing Day and Sydney will stage the final Test in the new year.

While English fans will be hoping the team still holds the urn by then, it may not be Alastair Cook who does so. The captain hinted strongly that he may soon step down from the role in favour of vice-captain Joe Root after England's defeat by an innings and 36 runs in the fourth Test against India in Mumbai this week, a loss that means India have an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series with just one Test left to play.

Cook admitted he was "asking questions" of his own future in the role, adding: "I think Joe Root is ready to captain England."

"He is ready because he is a clued-up guy and he has the respect of everyone in the changing room."

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