Australia news January 6, 2016

New pink ball prototype gets Shield trial

There were some concerns raised about the visibility of the seam during the inaugural day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand © Getty Images

A fresh prototype of the pink ball will be trialled during the next day-night Sheffield Shield round later this summer, as negotiations intensify around more flood-lit Test cricket in 2016-17.

The salient criticism of the Adelaide Test between Australia and New Zealand centred on the seam, which most players found fiendishly difficult to see under lights. In another departure from years of traditional ball design, the new pink ball will have an all-black seam in the hope that this will be simpler to pick up.

Cricket Australia's operations manager Sean Cary said that the ball was currently being manufactured in sufficient qualities to service round seven of the Shield, to be played in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth from February 14-17. The Gabba is under consideration for a day-night Test of its own next season.

"The major criticism has been around trying to see the seam of the ball, especially under lights, so we've got a prototype now with an all-black seam," Cary told ESPNcricinfo. "That includes the closing seam, which has traditionally always been white no matter what colour ball it is.

"Kookaburra have worked to ensure the strength in that closing seam is as strong as just a natural linen thread they use. The plan is to have that ball manufactured over the next couple of weeks and put in place for round seven of the Shield, which is going to be another day-night round, to try out the Gabba under their new lights and give Adelaide another crack."

Mitchell Starc, an ardent critic of the pink ball before the Adelaide match, said much progress had been made but more was needed, both in terms of the colour of the seam and the durability of the ball. "The guys are still saying they can't see the seam," he said. "I still think when you're preparing a wicket to protect the ball, there's your issue.

"I think the ball has come a long way and Kookaburra are doing a great job there but there still might be a few things to tinker with. I think they are tinkering with the colour of the seam this season. That might even help some more. So, I think the ball has come a long way in the last way in the last couple of years but I'd like to see the wickets keep their own characteristics and not have to change for the cricket ball."

CA have been in discussions with the boards of Pakistan and South Africa about next summer, while also having talks with the players about venues. It is possible that two day-night Tests will be played, the last of the South Africa series and the first of the Pakistan series, but this would necessitate moving the Gabba from its traditional slot as the first Test of the summer. The last time a Test season opened away from Brisbane was as far back as 1993-94, when Perth kicked off the season.

"The conversations continue with Pakistan, as they do with most of the countries we're playing with in the not too distant future," Cary said. "We'd really like to stage another day-night Test match next summer, and whether that's against South Africa or Pakistan is still to be decided."

James Sutherland, the CA chief executive, has also spoken hopefully of scheduling a day-night Test during the next Ashes summer in 2017-18. "The Adelaide Test against New Zealand last year was clearly a success," he said. "It was proof of concept and I think it sent a message around the world that the future of Test cricket lies partly in day-night Test cricket.

"Not wholly, but in the right place at the right time and in the right conditions there are opportunities for us to play more day-night cricket not just here in Australia but in other parts of the world. On the assumption we play a day-night Test match next summer, or two, that we will progress that further and it will be more of a fixture on our calendar, needless to say the summer after that is an Ashes summer and that just established tradition will continue.

"I know that the chairman and chief executive of the ECB are good men, very progressive in their thinking about the game and I know Tom Harrison the CEO with his background in media he will certainly understand that growing the popularity of the game is first and foremost in our minds as cricket administrators."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mervo on January 6, 2016, 19:43 GMT

    Actually the home bowlers and teams here do not want this change. It is not about home advantage, in fact the opposite, as preparing soft pitches to protect the pink ball, means that games become lotteries. It is about prime time, evening, tv advertising revenue. No more or less.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on January 6, 2016, 19:38 GMT

    I thought Brisbane had been ruled out because of problems with dew? Perth is out because of the time zone & Syd & Melb are too iconic so Adelaide will be the day/night venue if there has to be one. There will be as money dictates. I am still of Mitchell Starc's view . If you have to prepare an unsuitable pitch to stop the ball disintegrating it's not ready yet.

  • Cricinfouser on January 6, 2016, 14:12 GMT

    @DWBLURB - surely preparing test pitches to suit the home bowlers is likewise "interfering with the integrity of test cricket" - but has been done all throughout the history of the game.

  • cricketdude23 on January 6, 2016, 12:21 GMT

    No matter what it takes the icc should be working with all cricket ball manfactures to make this ball flawless because the pink ball can save test cricket in countries such as pakistan(uae) new zealand sth africa sri lanka

  • Deutschdestroyers1 on January 6, 2016, 9:22 GMT

    Day/night cricket at the Gabba before christmas is just going to lead to problems with the weather. It can seriously storm every evening for days on end there during the spring. Much better idea to limit it to the southern states.

  • GeoffreysMother on January 6, 2016, 8:46 GMT

    Strange that you can have a 'just established tradition' after one match!

  • dwblurb on January 6, 2016, 7:56 GMT

    Starc is spot on. Whilst you have to prepare a pitch with so much grass that the pink ball doesn't wear out, you are interfering with the integrity of test cricket.

  • Tsaeb on January 6, 2016, 6:43 GMT

    @Surechsrkmv - I recall reading another article somewhere that pointed out that the most important aspect for seam visibility (and ball visibility, for that matter) is contrast in either brightness or colour (ideally both). You want the ball colour to contrast against its background (hence red being inappropriate for night cricket, lacking brightness contrast) and you want the seam to contrast against the ball (hence white being suboptimal for a pink ball). The natural change is to shift to a colour like black that should stand out by its absence of glow against a glowing fluorescent pink ball.

  • sureshsrkmv on January 6, 2016, 6:09 GMT

    Why dont they use a fluorescent kind of color which can glow a bit under flood lights for the seam of the ball. The color will be exciting to watch and I guess this will help to see the seam quite clearly but at the same time the ball cost will be more.

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