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Day-Night Tests: Is the pink ball good enough to last the contest?

Questions over the quality of the pink ball once it gets old are being asked © Getty Images
Questions over the quality of the pink ball once it gets old are being asked © Getty Images

Day-Night Tests are a possibility in 2015, with Australia planning a series against New Zealand. But is the pink ball good enough for the contest, Nishad Pai Vaidya asks.

Australia and New Zealand could well herald a new era for cricket in 2015 if the plan to stage a Day-Night Test series materialises. For a few years, there has been a lot of talk about taking the classical format under lights, in order to attract more crowds. But playing with the red ball under lights wasn’t feasible, which brought about the onset of the pink ball. The trials have continued, with the Marylebourne Cricket Club (MCC) having its annual round in the Middle East. Even the Australians have tried it out. Is it ready for the big leap now?

Back in 2011, Rahul Dravid had supported the idea of Day-Night Tests during his famous Bradman Oration Down Under. Dravid spoke at length on the need to sustain the longer formats and more importantly, the need to make Test cricket more viewer friendly. Along with the Day-Night Tests, a Test championship was also a suggestion as it would give the matches more meaning. These are some concepts worth exploring if cricket is to move forward.

It is logical isn’t it? Many cricket fans cannot attend Test matches during the day as it clashes with their work-hours. Thus, if you push it to a time when their daily routines are out of the way, there is a greater chance that they may head to the ground. On a few occasions, boards have been blamed for not scheduling Tests well. A few of them have been played on all weekdays, leaving little or no scope for getting crowds. With the Day-Night Tests coming in, one may be able to counter that.

While attracting the crowds remains the main motive behind the whole scheme, the ball is the biggest bone of contention. Will the pink ball be durable enough to last the five days? Dravid mentioned during his Bradman Oration that he didn’t find the durability or visibility a problem when he played with the MCC in 2010. However, he did say that it could have problems where there is dew. Also, some of the Australian domestic cricketers expressed a few concerns after it was tried last season.

Cricket Australia’s official website reported in March this year that the players had complained that the ball got softer earlier when compared to the conventional red one. Michael Klinger told the website, “It feels like a bit of a tennis ball on to the bat. It’s a bit softer and guys are probably struggling to hit the ball through the field a little.” If the pink ball becomes soft earlier, how is it going to last in a place like the subcontinent? In India, for example, the spinners continue to use the old ball much after a newer one is available. The batsman could have a very tough time dealing with the pink ball in such conditions.

The idea is good; Test cricket needs to attract crowds. The boards now have to find the best way to execute these plans as this innovation could well be the future, something that would pump life into the classical format. Perhaps, they could consider an adjustment in the rules, whereby a new ball would be available earlier than 80 overs. Things have to fall into place if this has to pull through.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)

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