The Trust made an audacious bid in 2016 to host a second Test in the summer, but those plans are now off the agenda with officials keen to limit the volume of traffic at the SCG until redevelopment of the adjacent football stadium is completed in 2022.
The day-night concept was initially brought in as a way of allowing more fans to see the game after work and school, but it has proven a box office and ratings hit. Sydney, along with Melbourne, had not been thought of as a likely contender as the New Year’s Test falls during the holiday period.
Australia created history in Adelaide in 2015 by staging the inaugural day-night Test against New Zealand. The series opener against the Black Caps on Thursday will be the seventh under lights held in this country, with Perth’s Optus Stadium to become the third day/night venue.
While international cricket has been played at night on these shores since World Series in the 1970s, for decades Tests had bucked the global trend of major sport being played at night – but momentum is now growing.
Perth’s case to stage more day/night Tests will come under the microscope this week, but WACA chief executive Christina Matthews believes the time slot is ideal for the city despite stumps being at 11pm in Sydney and Melbourne.
“[A] day-night Test in Perth is a great thing to be doing. Our weather is a testament to playing into the evening,” Matthews said.
“Over time, as we’ve seen with one-day cricket and footy, night sport is what people eventually want to go to. I think that will continue with Test cricket.
“It will be interesting to see what they do against England in terms of more than just Adelaide. As time goes by we will see more and more of them.”
CA have not held any more than two day-night Tests per season but the game’s free to air broadcaster, Channel Seven, has said it would consider a third.
“We would be open to that. Cricket Australia are working through things. Another day-night Test – it’s important to make great sport available to when people are available to watch it,” Seven’s head of sport Lewis Martin said last week.
“Cricket Australia have to work with all the international bodies, of course, and we respect that but they are certainly recognising the appetite audiences have for live sport into prime time.”
An extra day-night Test could have fixturing consequences for the Big Bash League, as CA does not like to have games clash. That would further tighten an already cramped schedule.
Meanwhile, Matthews hosed down talk of Perth snatching the Boxing Day Test from Melbourne despite the latest pitch dramas at the MCG.
“They’re [CA] not looking at moving anything from Melbourne on Boxing Day. We know how sensitive Melbourne people are about the Boxing Day Test,” Matthews said.
“We’re quite happy with the schedule. We have a big BBL game that follows the day of cricket in Melbourne.
“What we need to do is make sure we support cricket in making sure the MCG pitch is as good as it can be for every year of Test cricket.”
Follow our live coverage of the first Test against New Zealand from 3.30pm AEDT on Thursday.
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald