Day-night cricket spawns shake-up of Australia’s schedule

Melbourne, April 7 (IANS) The Western Australian city of Perth will host the opening Test of Australia’s 2016-17 summer cricket series in what is shaping as a dramatic shake-up of the schedule.

Cricket Australia (CA) is yet to officially finalize the timeline for its international, domestic and Big Bash League (BBL) fixtures, reports Xinhua.

However, the organisation is expected to dump the Brisbane Test as the national side’s season springboard in order to trial a second day-night Test match following the raging success of the concept last summer.

Last year, Adelaide Oval staged the first day-night Test match against trans-Tasman challengers New Zealand.

The day-night format, which featured a pink ball instead of the traditional red variety to help batsman to see under floodlights, proved an instant hit with 47,441 people attending the opening day to witness the historic occasion.

On Thursday, Fairfax Media reported that the Perth Test — usually the third of the summer — would be brought forward to allow for day-night Tests to be played against each of Australia’s 2016-17 touring sides, South Africa and Pakistan.

Moving Brisbane to the Fourth Test slot will give both touring sides a taste of the new night format, with Australia closing out its first leg of the summer against South Africa in Adelaide before starting the Pakistan series in Brisbane not long after.

Outside of Australia’s Ashes clashes against bitter rival England, Brisbane has struggled to pull in respectable crowd numbers for more than a decade.

Although last year the Gabba set attendance record for a game against New Zealand, the clash only pulled in 53,572 fans across the five days.

In another plus for Australia’s eastern-coast cricket viewers – and national rights broadcaster, the Nine Network – half of the summer’s Tests are now effectively day-night TV games due to differences in time-zones.

Over the course of the six-Test summer, Australia will play three five-day matches apiece against South Africa and Pakistan.

The South Africans, third in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings, will meet Australia in Perth, Hobart and Adelaide.

Fourth-ranked Pakistan will then backend the summer starting with the new day-night clash in Brisbane, before completing the series against Australia – which ascended to the No. 1 Test ranking in February – with marquee Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.

River Plate hit The Strongest for six

Buenos Aires, April 7 (IANS) Defending champions River Plate rose to the top of their Copa Libertadores group with a 6-0 victory over The Strongest.

First-half goals to Andres D’Alessandro, Ignacio Fernandez, Camilo Mayada, Emanuel Mammana and Lucas Alario all but secured victory for the hosts before halftime on Wednesday, reports Xinhua.

Fernandez added a sixth goal seven minutes from time as River overtook their Bolivian rivals at the top of Group 1.

The Argentine outfit now have eight points from four matches, a point ahead of The Strongest with third-placed Sao Paulo two points further back.

In other matches on Wednesday, Palmeiras drew 3-3 at Rosario Central, Independiente del Valle beat Atletico Mineiro 3-2 and Corinthians drew 1-1 at Independiente Santa Fe.

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