Pretty in pink: the new ball game for test cricket

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2014
David White
Getty Images

DAVID WHITE: ‘‘We would want one or two warm-up games in similar conditions for our leading, leading up to that first day-night game with the pink ball.’’

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Test cricket's evolutionary wheel will turn again in November next year.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and Cricket Australia (CA) all but confirmed yesterday that day-night test cricket will become a reality. Six-ball overs, covered pitches and helmets will soon be joined by pink balls and 2pm starts.

The Black Caps’ scheduled test series in Australia in 2015 seems certain to include a game, either at Hobart or Adelaide, which will be forever be known as test cricket’s first day-night test.

Manufacturing a sufficiently robust pink ball has delayed this moment, but CA chief executive James Sutherland confidently predicted a suitable Kookaburra or Duke sphere would be ready by then.

Pink balls will be again trialled in the second round of Australia’s Sheffield Shield next summer, from November 8-11 in Perth, Adelaide and Hobart, with an eye to one of the latter two hosting a test between New Zealand and Australia a year later.

Sutherland said using pink balls in these games, at the same potential venues and at the identical time of year, would provide the perfect warrant of fitness.

Provided all parties are satisfied, NZC will then begin preparing to host day-night tests of their own.

‘‘We will also be trialing the pink ball in New Zealand this summer. Most probably not in a first-class game, but it will be of a significantly high standard,’’ NZC chief executive David White said.

The motivation is money.

‘‘It’s not only the domestic market, in terms of getting more people along to the games but also, because of our time zone, if we can play more test matches at night it is more advantageous for the international broadcast market, with our time difference. So we find that interesting,’’ said White.

White said he endorsed CA’s idea of not having day-night tests during the summer holiday period. Last season the Black Caps met the West Indies in three December tests, before hosting India for two more in February.

White’s wish is for ‘‘maybe one game in a [test] series’’ to be of a day-night variety in the future.

Neither White, nor an NZC spokesman, could specify where and when this summer’s trial would take place or which venues might ideally host day-night tests. Dew degrading the pink ball was White’s major concern so NZC would be ‘‘looking at the most suitable venue and time of year to play the games.’’

Duke balls have been used under lights in West Indian first-class cricket and Kookaburras in Australia, with a clear winner between the two yet to emerge.

Sutherland said Melbourne and Sydney were not being considered for day-night tests, because of the strong brand built by the traditional Boxing Day and New Year matches. The time difference in Perth made that unsuitable as well.

White indicated that NZC and the Black Caps were happy with the prospect of Adelaide or Hobart, in November next year, with one proviso.

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‘‘We would want one or two warm-up games in similar conditions for our leading, leading up to that first day-night game with the pink ball,’’ he said.

- The Dominion Post

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