Cricket

Graeme Swann thinks day-night Test cricket in England isn't too far away

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Graeme Swann expects England will follow Australia's lead and host a day-night Test match in the next few years.

On the eve of the first-ever day-night Test, which begins in Adelaide on Friday, Swann has suggested that England is perhaps even better placed than Australia to stage such games.

Most significantly, Swann says the traditional red ball could still be used - rather than the much-criticised pink option that is set to be unveiled this week - because of the long hours of daylight in the English summer.

"People always associate England with cold, but during the time of year that Test cricket is on it doesn't get dark until 10.30pm," he told Press Association Sport.

"They could just start two hours later and say we'll turn the lights on. I wouldn't be surprised that if in a few years they're playing day-night Test but using the red ball.

"I think that will turn out to be easier to see for a batsman rather than this pink ball."

Swann has applauded Cricket Australia's initiative even though he shares the concerns of others about the way the pink ball will behave in Adelaide.

The 36-year-old former England spinner has not played in a match using a pink ball - he retired midway through the 5-0 Ashes whitewash two years ago - but reports from his former county colleagues at Nottinghamshire have not encouraged him.

"You've got to innovate, although at first I think it could be a bit of a shambles with this pink ball," he said.

"It isn't up to it, in my opinion. Whatever the lacquer they're using - it's supposed to have had 10 years' development - I'd hate to see what the first few years were like.

"The guys I know who have played with a pink ball, Notts went out to play the MCC (in the United Arab Emirates) and they said during the day it is fine and you see the ball, but as soon as dusk and night comes it is like facing a little comet.

"You don't see a ball - you see a streak.

"I'm sure they'll refine it and tweak it and in a few years time they'll probably land upon something that works.

"Whether this is the winning formula we'll wait and see, but at least they're doing something.

"It will be very interesting to see how it works in this Test."

While Swann is an advocate of day-night Tests to promote the game, he is strongly against moves to reduce the format to four days.

His instinct as a spinner who thrived on fifth-day wickets may be part of the reason for that, but he also believes the unique theatre of a tight final-day finish would be unnecessarily lost.

"I'm definitely not in favour of four-day Test matches," he added. "No way.

"If you do that you need more overs in a day and I think you're just going for quantity over quality then.

"Having played a lot of four-day cricket, especially for spin bowlers, you just don't get the chance to set in for a spell and work people out.

"The wicket doesn't wear as much. The fifth day of a Test match, when it is in the balance, is one of the most wonderful things.

"It only comes around once or twice a year and it should be cherished, not discarded.

"I think that would be a massive mistake if they got rid of the fifth day."

Swann was speaking to promote the Sir Bobby Robson Online charity auction, where fans can bid for memorabilia donated by high-profile sporting stars, and clubs, such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Barcelona and Jose Mourinho.

Since its inception four years ago, the Sir Bobby Online Auction has raised over ?700,000 for the fight against cancer.

Details of the items in the auction, which closes on Sunday, can be found at: www.sirbobbysauction.com.

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