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Shield hopes in the pink


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The Sheffield Shield won’t be compromised by an experiment with pink balls that could lead to day-night Test matches, Cricket Australia (CA) chief James Sutherland says.

The Shield’s penultimate round starts Monday with three day-night matches CA hopes will prove the worth of pink balls for Test cricket.

Sutherland said there were obstacles but the experiment was for the long-term good of the game.

“Each Shield team will be in the same position,” he said.

“The states that make the Shield final are the most consistent across the whole season, not just one round of matches.

“So we’re comfortable the competition will not be compromised by the day-night round.”

Coaches and players have questioned the timing of the experiment, coming as five of the six states try to reach the Shield final.

Victoria (eight points) are the odd state out, languishing in last spot ahead of their home match against fifth-placed Tasmania (16 points).

Fourth-placed Queensland (16 points) host Western Australia, who lead the competition with 26 points.

South Australia also have 26 points but an inferior quotient to the Warriors – by a slender 0.02, about the equivalent of one wicket.

The Redbacks host third-placed NSW (24 points) at Adelaide Oval.

Sutherland said the trial of pink balls, with black sightscreens, was with a view to a day-night Test match in 2015-16 in Australia.

“We’re serious about day-night Test cricket and the trials will play an important role in making that happen,” he said.

“Cricket needs to try and find a way to schedule the premium form of the game at a time when the most number of fans are able to attend and watch.”

But there were no guarantees of a successful experiment, he said.

“In the interests of growing the game in the long term, not just in Australia but around the world, we’ve taken a leadership role to try and overcome some of the hurdles,” Sutherland said.

“We know there are obstacles, namely the durability of the coloured ball and dew on the ground.

“However without conducting trials in serious first-class competition, we won’t know how far away we are.

“The matches will provide us with a lot feedback that well need to consider. We’re comfortable with that and will approach any challenges in a positive way to keep this concept moving forward.”

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