Talking sport: Pink ball gives a rosy tint to Test future

There will be issues to overcome and some of those seem pretty serious. (File Photo) There will be issues to overcome and some of those seem pretty serious. (File Photo)

I must confess I am hugely excited by the idea of playing a Test match under lights. Our game has to move on and keep pace with changing lifestyles and preferences and with plummeting viewership for test cricket, it needs to adapt to survive. If more people can watch cricket late evening, and if it improves the financial health of the sport, we have no choice but to give it a go. Remember day-night matches revolutionised one-day cricket and while there were challenges with thse white ball, we found an agreeable way around it. It could now emerge as a lifeline for Test cricket.

Admittedly, there will be issues to overcome and some of those seem pretty serious at the moment but until you actually try it out you will never know. I remember being in Melbourne sixteen years ago for the first one-day international played in a closed stadium and while it largely worked well players had to get used to the idea that there was no hard square around the wicket. If you hit a ball hard into the ground, like with the square cut, it didn’t exactly speed off because there was a drop in pitch and that was it. The ground beneath silly point was as hard or soft as at deep mid-wicket. And they had to keep shifting the trays that held the grass in the outfield between games because some parts of the outfield didn’t get much sunlight and so the grass grew differently! But these were surmountable issues and the three games there went off quite well.

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The issues before day/night cricket, especially on the sub-continent could be a bit more challenging given that we play a large part of it as a winter sport as opposed to it being a summer sport in other parts. It means dew will become a major factor and we have already seen one-day games where losing the toss can provide an insurmountable disadvantage to the side bowling second. We’ve seen some progress in combating that with sprays and mats taken around but while that can take care of the outfield, there isn’t much you can do about the transition of the pitch from dry in the afternoon to moist at night and dry again the next day.

The Test in Adelaide between Australia and New Zealand threw up interesting opinions. The organisers and the fans loved it, there were record attendances and while you need to factor in the curiosity factor, it was still a very healthy response. But the players don’t seem to be too enthused about playing more games because they think visibility is still a factor. 

When the top surface of a pink ball peels off, or scratches off, it exposes a darker base and that can make sighting it more difficult in the dark. To counter that, the curator had to leave more grass on the pitch and the outfield so that the ball encountered a more lush rather than a more abrasive surface. It meant the match finished in three days but it has implications for India.

Most times, Test in India are played on abrasive surfaces that help spin and reverse swing. There is nothing wrong with…

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