Sydney: Cricket Australia (CA) says the sport could attract a four-fold increase in television ratings by introducing day-night Test matches within the next decade.
CA chief executive James Sutherland confirmed Thursday reports that his organisation was preparing to defy 130 years of tradition by trialling day-night Tests.
The Australian newspaper reported that CA officials were examining the concept of scheduling games from 2pm-9pm or 3pm-10pm rather than the traditional 11am-6pm.
Cricket officials claim the move would allow more people to watch at grounds and on television.
Sutherland said CA wanted to trial a day-night Test, although he could not be more specific than saying at some stage over the next decade.
The news has met with widespread criticism from fans on talkback radio and newspaper blogging sites.
Sutherland said the reasoning behind CA's considerations was to make Test cricket contemporary and accessible, and forecast the move would cause a boom in television ratings.
"Perhaps we can do some of that analysis just by looking at our TV ratings for Test cricket versus the one-day matches and the second half of one-day matches, which are in the evening," he said.
"My anecdotal suggestions there would be audiences something like four times what they currently are for Test cricket."
Although Test cricket under lights would be a major break with the game's history, Sutherland said it was 'incredibly important' to preserve the longer form's traditions.
However, he could not rule out players donning coloured clothing and using a white ball in a Test, although he was opposed to the idea of players wearing microphones like they do in Twenty20 matches played here.
Sutherland denied Test cricket needed rescuing amid the Twenty20 spectator boom, as the traditional longer form of the game was in fantastic shape.
It just needed to be taken to more people, he said.
"The concept we're throwing round is designed to ensure the game can reach the biggest possible audience," Sutherland said.
Day-night Test matches would also be better for viewers in other countries, especially on the subcontinent, and would allow more fans to attend matches, after work and on weekdays, he said.
Critics argue it is unfair to subject teams to an uneven playing field if they had to bat at night on dewy wickets against white balls that become dirty easily, while crowd problems could also be exacerbated given the longer drinking hours.
Sutherland said CA would seek feedback from its players, but was confident the International Cricket Council would support the concept given the boost day-night Tests could prompt in ratings and attendances.