South Africa have confirmed they will play a day-night Test against Australia in Adelaide from November 24, the third match of their tour later this year. The fixture will be the first of two day-night Tests in the upcoming Australian summer, with Pakistan scheduled to play one in Brisbane from December 15.
Over the past few months, several South African players had expressed reservations over playing a Test with the pink ball without having adequately experimented with it at lower levels. They will now begin their tour of Australia in mid-October with a two-day match under lights at Adelaide Oval, and will also have another two-day, day-night match before the third and final Test. A four-day fixture on South Africa A’s tour of Australia in August will also be a day-night game.
CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said the decision to play a day-night Test had been reached after “careful consideration and engagement” with the players. “Our Proteas were initially hesitant to play such a key Test match without previous experience and adequate preparation, but after working through all their concerns and possible options to prepare sufficiently, there is newfound excitement for this novel Test match,” he said. “Our players deserve credit for the way they have worked through the issues which were clearly not insignificant.”
South Africa Cricketers Association chief Tony Irish said the decision had not been made for monetary reasons, but because of the “player’s willingness to take a bold step and play a pink ball match sooner rather than later.”
“The players looked at all the pros and cons of playing this. There are still legitimate concerns around the ball, as it is fundamentally different to a red ball or white ball,” Irish told ESPNcricinfo. “Some players will find it more difficult to see, it behaves differently and conditions have to be tailored to make it last. So there will be a number of unknowns in what is likely to be a crucial match for the Proteas against a team who has some experience of these conditions
“What has changed now, however, is the players’ willingness to take a bold step and play a pink ball match sooner rather than later, given the recent announcements from other countries that they will soon start playing day-night Tests.
“This has never been about money. Cricket Australia has not offered the players extra money and we haven’t asked for money.”
Among the South Africans who had initially objected to the game were AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada, all citing lack of practice with the pink ball. Though CA had already offered South Africa a warm-up match under lights, Philander said the players would need to have “experimented on the domestic front” and “tested the pink ball properly” before agreeing to play a Test with it. Another likely reason for South Africa’s hesitation was that they are chasing a Test revival after slipping from No. 1 to No. 6 on the ICC rankings.
CA chief executive James Sutherland thanked CSA for making the fixture possible. “Nearly 124,000 people attended the inaugural day-night Test match in Adelaide last year and there has been great anticipation about future day-night Tests since … I would like to acknowledge the open manner in which Cricket South Africa and the South African Cricketers Association have worked through this matter with us. We look forward to welcoming the South African players to Australia in late October and offering them the best possible preparation ahead of the series.”
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.