SYDNEY (REUTERS) - The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have agreed in principle to play the first Ashes test under lights on next year's tour of Australia, local media reported on Thursday.
Cricket Australia (CA) have hosted two day-night tests under lights over the last two seasons, both of which have been a commercial success with large numbers attending the matches against New Zealand and South Africa.
While both games were at the Adelaide Oval, making it favourite to host a day-night Ashes test, Brisbane's The Gabba will soon host its first pink ball test, against Pakistan later this month.
The itinerary for the 2017-18 Ashes tour is still being finalised but the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday that the ECB had agreed in principle to one of the five tests being under lights. CA and the ECB were unavailable for immediate comment.
The prospect of a day-night Ashes test received a boost earlier on Thursday when Australia captain Steve Smith and coach Darren Lehmann told local media they felt pink ball cricket was here to stay.
Smith had initially opposed a day-night test between the two nations, the oldest rivalry in cricket, but felt lessons learned from last year's match against New Zealand had been applied.
The inaugural day-night test lasted just three days with the twilight drastically affecting the movement of the pink ball, while batsmen also said they found it hard to see under lights.
The match against South Africa, which ended on Sunday, lasted four days and an improved ball did not move around as much in the evening session, nor get scuffed up by the pitch.
"I've always said we need to get the product as right as we can and the ball in as good a shape as we can and I think they've made some good improvements with that," Smith told Australian Associated Press.
"This year's game was outstanding. Slightly less grass than the year before and it was almost the perfect test wicket. There was enough in it for everyone; both bat, ball, the ball spun.
"So it was a wicket for everyone and that's what you want to see; an even contest. I think it's certainly here to stay."
Lehmann echoed Smith's comments on an Adelaide radio station and said if an Ashes test did go ahead under lights, then the Adelaide Oval would be the logical place for it.
"We said last year, 'make sure we get the ball and pitch right'," he told 5AA. "And good credit to CA and the ground staff to get it right. There wasn't too many complaints."
"I think it'd stay (as a) day-nighter (for the Ashes), from what I've seen."