Cricket: Australia set to trip the night fantastic

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AUSTRALIA's apparent determination to buck every tradition purists hold dear, evident ever since Kerry Packer introduced floodlight pylons and sartorially challenged kit in 1977, will break another barrier in November by staging what is believed to be the first first-class match conducted under lights. Doubters will find the choice of venue, the WACA in Perth, rather appropriate.

'We believe it will be the first time a first-class game has been played at night anywhere,' Ross Dundas, the Australian Cricket Board's historian, said of the historic meeting between Western Australia and Queensland at Perth starting on 24 November. Two further 'trials' will be held at Sydney in December (New South Wales v Tasmania) and at Melbourne in February (Victoria v South Australia). All six state sides will thus have an opportunity to gauge the feasibility of future floodlit matches.

This enterprising move, designed to pep up flagging attendances in the Sheffield Shield, has received the blessing of several prominent Test players, including the new Australian captain, Mark Taylor. In another clean break with first-class tradition, yellow and white balls will both be used in order to decide which colour would be more suitable.

Alec Stewart, linked with possible moves to Durham and Middlesex, has ended speculation about his future by signing an extended contract with Surrey. Stewart, who will remain the county's captain, was already under contract until 1995 but now he and Graham Thorpe have both agreed deals that will keep them at The Oval for significantly longer. One departure from Kennington is that of Monte Lynch, who is expected to join Gloucestershire.

The former Australian captain Greg Chappell will coach his country's 'A' team in this winter's quadrangular one-day World Series Cup matches against England, Zimbabwe and the Australian first XI. The former Test off-spinner, Peter Taylor, has joined the national selection panel, replacing Bobby Simpson, who resigned last month. The panel now comprises Laurie Sawle (chairman), Steve Bernard, Jim Higgs, Trevor Hohns and Taylor.