Jury still out on pink ball, says players' union

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 06/07/2014
Pink ball
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ

BOLD MOVE: New Zealand Cricket will schedule a trial fixture to test the pink ball, chief executive David White said.

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A pink cricket ball needs to be tested by New Zealand players, in New Zealand conditions before a day/night test can go ahead, the players' union says.

New Zealand Cricket along with Cricket Australia last week announced intentions to try to stage a day/night test in Australia in November 2015. A pink ball which has undergone trials in countries including Australia would be used.

But, just days after the announcement, the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) said the overwhelming majority of its players believed the ball wasn't ready for test cricket.

Cricket Australia had trialled a pink ball in its four-day Sheffield Shield competition and will again this November.

In a statement on its website, ACA chief executive Paul Marsh said only 11 per cent of players rated the trial a success and many said the ball went soft very quickly, didn't swing, didn't seam and didn't reverse swing.

"The enthusiasm some have for the concept is understandable, however, in the ACA's view, the possibility of improved short-term commercial outcomes should not be enough to force this on the game prematurely.

"The integrity of the contest between bat and ball must be preserved and rather than accept an inferior ball, the key stakeholders in the game should demand that the game finds a solution to these issues before a day/night test match is played."

New Zealand Cricket Players' Association chief executive Heath Mills said there had been no trials in New Zealand and no chance for players to be surveyed about their opinions.

"We are supportive of any trial and would encourage New Zealand Cricket to look at that."

Mills said the association was cognisant of the feedback from the Australian trial and the "significant concerns" about the durability of the pink ball.

"The integrity of the contest in test cricket is really important. Everyone wants to continue the growth of the game but not at the expense of the integrity of test cricket."

Mills said any trial needed to involve players at a high level in New Zealand cricket.

"Everyone wants to get excited because it is new and different but we need to make sure it is the right way forward."

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said, in a statement released at the start of last week, that ensuring the ball behaved "as close as possible to the red ball is vital for the success of this initiative".

He said it would schedule a trial fixture in the upcoming season "so we can examine more closely issues such as dew, and its effect on the condition of the ball".

White said there were "good, sound" reasons for considering day-night tests in New Zealand - the increased access for fans, and the commercial advantages of operating in a more appealing time-zone for overseas broadcasting markets.

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