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Pietersen ridicules idea of day-night Tests

ESPNcricinfo staff

April 18, 2014

Comments: 52 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen was given a bowl, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 3rd day, January 5, 2014
Pietersen doesn't mind pink stumps, but cringes at the idea of playing Tests in the night with pink balls © PA Photos

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole new statistics database.

Day-night Test cricket has been the ICC's beloved project of late. It has been experimenting pink-ball cricket in the UAE, and has also been encouraging its member boards to keep trying it in their domestic first-class cricket. Pietersen, with 104 Test caps, is the first high-profile cricketer to oppose the idea in such clear terms.

"I have never played with the pink ball," Pietersen said responding to a question by BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhary at an interactive session organised by Indian Express. "And if they start playing day-night Test cricket, then they have to start new statistics because it's totally different. You've got Brett Lee running in at quarter to ten at night with the second new ball. I mean it's just stupid."

According to conventional analysis, the durability of the pink ball has been the biggest problem area so far, but Pietersen went on to state how day-night cricket would change the whole equilibrium of Test cricket, durable ball or no durable ball. He also added that he believed the first session will be the only time the spinners will be effective.

"I don't know if it'll work, but I am not a fan of it at all." Pietersen said. "If they want to play it, then it can be a new form of cricket, but they have to use new statistics for it for sure. If you are going to play day-night Test cricket in Durban, I can't see a ball spinning when the sun goes down, and the light comes on. I can see the ball seaming. On day five, spinners win you Test matches. But with the lights coming on, it will be seamers who will win you matches on day five. So I am not a fan of it at all."

Even if Pietersen's claims are ignored, the reviews of the pink ball are mixed. Rahul Dravid did not mind it a lot, but players in Australia, where the pink ball was trialled in three first-class matches were not quite thrilled.

Speaking at Cricinfo-for-Cricket Summit last year, Dravid said: "If it [keeping Tests relevant] means playing day-night cricket, we must give it a try, keep an open mind. The game's traditions aren't under threat if we play Test cricket under lights. I know there have been concerns about the durability of the pink ball, but I have had some experience of it having played for the MCC, and it seemed to hold up okay."

Different views came from Australia. "I found it hard when it was cloudy and then sunny," Queensland's Chris Lynn said. "I couldn't see the seam very well as the ball got older. That made it hard against the balls that were swinging."

South Australia's Michael Klinger found the ball hard to time. "The biggest difference is that once it gets softer, it doesn't come off the bat as well," Klinger said. "A lot of shots off the middle of the bat, it feels like a tennis ball... it's a bit softer and guys are struggling to hit the ball through the field." Victoria coach Greg Shipperd claimed that the pink paint scraped off, leaving dark patches underneath.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (April 19, 2014, 18:44 GMT)

What about the dew factor? It is going to be hard for the bowlers and fielders

Posted by number-09 on (April 19, 2014, 12:28 GMT)

@Angus Bell - It does not "get dark so early in the day in the WI". It gets dark between 5.30 - 6.30pm. And it depends on the season. WI maybe the best for D/N cricket, since there is no serious dew factor nighttime. So far I have not heard of any negative reactions from WI players, with D/N first class games.

Posted by   on (April 19, 2014, 11:07 GMT)

Either day-night test cricket or no test cricket!!!!!

Posted by llamedos on (April 19, 2014, 10:16 GMT)

Firstly, I think Pietersen's wrong. The wonderful thing about Tests is that the conditions can vary so much (does he want "different stats" for a slow green wicket in NZ and for a Mumbai dustbowl)? I think one of the best things in Tests is that different skills / styles suit different wickets. Watching good teams in conditions that don't suit them is fantastic to watch, a great challenge for good players and is almost unique in any sport. So any unusual conditions would just add more interest and variation.

And anyway, he doesn't have to worry about playing in one, does he?

Posted by   on (April 19, 2014, 8:57 GMT)

kp is right it is really a bad idea to play d/n test cricket because this will either knock the spinners off if you just play with the covers on for the whole day then there will be dew which means no spinners there is another thing the pitches won't deteriorate so with so with d/n tests day 5 Indian pitches will be like 2nd day test pitch of England

Posted by dunger.bob on (April 19, 2014, 8:08 GMT)

@ GrindAR: You are kidding aren't you? Please tell me you are. .. Ok, running with it, what do you suggest the cut-out should be? 50 dots - 30- 20 10? How about 3, like in baseball. That way we could get the 4 innings in one afternoon. .. It would be even faster than T20.

Posted by Udendra on (April 19, 2014, 6:53 GMT)

How on earth will spinners grip the ball when dew sets in??

Posted by   on (April 19, 2014, 5:34 GMT)

"Common sense usually prevails in situations like these, and frankly Pietersen is not using any." Now, Mannix16, it seems your just born or don't really know your cricket. Well, this is all basic science, with sun out there, the pitch gets baked and gets cracked up easily, but with night the game will be played at night the seam will come into play and yes less cracks cause at night no expansion of the crack will take place, but on the other hand it will shrink cause of weather condition . Basic science.

Posted by KP_84 on (April 19, 2014, 3:43 GMT)

Cricket as it was played in the nineteen century is barely recognizable from the game played now. And yet, the statistics make no distinction between Test and First-Class matches played then, and those played now. So what if the new ball is taken more often? Moving from underarm to overarm bowling and from uncovered to covered pitches had a far greater impact on the game than Day/Night Test ever will.

Posted by   on (April 19, 2014, 0:19 GMT)

Pink balls are horrible to bat against. Orange is by far the easiest colour for the human eye to see. The only issue with orange is that broadcasters complained about yellow and orange balls back in the 70s, saying they were difficult to pick up on TV, hence the talk about pink. But TV has moved on lightyears since then.

In some parts of the world, day-night Tests won't work because of climatic conditions, but in places like the West Indies, where is gets dark so early in the day, it would be a lifesaver for the game. Everybody has to work, or is in school, or is retired and unable to afford tickets. Urgent rethink. Please!

Posted by m0se on (April 18, 2014, 23:47 GMT)

They have to use new statistics for it? Come on Pietersen, is stats that important? There needs to be progress in cricket. Pietersen invented the switch hit and look how popular his technique has proven in T20 cricket.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 23:32 GMT)

I'm not sure I really care what an average South African spin bowler thinks about this.

Maybe we should have different statistics for every time they change one of the laws of cricket, or a playing condition, or for different bats/balls/pads/gloves/kit....

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 23:19 GMT)

There is a very old saying "Do to bite what you cannot chew". Come on ICC get the present formats, the teams, associate structure sorted before you embark on to tackle the unknown. We have Test cricket, ODI's and T20's. Do you not feel this is enough for you to sort out, enough for us the spectators. Some money making commitments are making us the fans get fed up. Let the players who play for the respective countries, their motherlands come good. Do not destroy them by all these fancy tournaments.

Posted by GrindAR on (April 18, 2014, 20:52 GMT)

Good points by KP. D/N Tests will eventually kill the test format... Because people wont loose their sleep over the slow pace of the game... Just think, if you cannot make a scoring shot (defending/blocking) for 70% of the balls faced... nothing will improve the standard of the game.

One thing, the only one thing I like in Baseball is this... which test cricket must adopt to make it more thrilling... If the batter cannot score anything in certain number of consecutive balls, is considered "OUT"/"Fall of that wicket". This will make it really exciting to watch..., because, the bowlers who bowls hearts out and the batter ducks it under his bat, is a disrespect for the bowler, which is the fact, Cricket Bodies dont want to account for... thats a pure shame. Bring this rule, and see how the test cricket be more exciting... for sure there will be a result in every game of 2 innings each... even if the weather spoils 1 full day worth of the match.

Posted by getgopi on (April 18, 2014, 19:50 GMT)

What about the lunch session? What about high tea? Will it now be supper and a night cap instead?

Posted by sheru-sher on (April 18, 2014, 19:29 GMT)

Day /Night Test cricket will be a big joke just like T20 cricket. I have a feeling that""" Powerhouse India """is trying it's utmost to kill fast bowling since they cannot produce any one of genuine pace. How could the world let one country change cricket so drastically?I agree with KP that new stats will have to be fashioned and the book closed on stats from Day Tests.Dew is a real factor in night cricket and cannot be ignored. Soon India will suggest totally covered outfields so rain might not be a factor anymore and with all the flat tracts /dust bowls that will emerge India will reign supreme forever with their spinners and FTB's batsmen. See what money can do to a glorious game .

Posted by Mannix16 on (April 18, 2014, 18:58 GMT)

Common sense usually prevails in situations like these, and frankly Pietersen is not using any. How does direct sunlight affect the ball to spin? The tracks getting more spin conducive arises from the pitches baking in the sun all day and if anything, playing after the pitch has been out in the sun all day would make the tracks even more conducive to spin (since day/night matches are started later). Also, the remarks from the Australian players are baffling to me and this issue must be looked into more. How much of a difference is there from a red ball and a pink ball? Klinger makes it sound like the ball is a lot different from just a simple color change..... Also, if we really want to preserve Test Cricket, might we not ditch the pink ball idea and go for a white ball (like used in the other forms of cricket)? Day/Night ODI matches are fine with the white ball already...

Posted by Speng on (April 18, 2014, 17:57 GMT)

@LillianThomson: great idea I never understood why cricket matches start so late. In England they start at 11 and in more tropical places it's 10 which is ridiculous. I think they should play 1 3/4 hr sessions with 15 min breaks and have 4 sessions which would give more playing time than they currently have on the long days and play 2-3 sessions on the short days.

Lights at test matches should be mandatory to at least allow twilight play.

Another tip: what about half day tickets?

I don't really care about being able to compare WG Grace's stats to Brian Lara's

Posted by Speng on (April 18, 2014, 17:44 GMT)

KP can talk all he wants as in England Test Matches are all sold out but it's dying everywhere else. In England they can start at 11 and go until 7pm so people can watch a lot after work whether live on the telly but in more tropical countries where the sunlight doesn't go for as long 10 to 5 is more common and people have jobs...

I don't really see the need for the pink ball to be honest, in the last couple English summers whole days' play have been done under lights. Actually if the balls don't last as long as the red ones the bowlers won't mind because after about 50-60 overs the balls are dead rubbish that even spinners don't want to bowl with. The spinners are showing in ODI and T20I that they can rip the new ball and the reverse swinging pacers like it from 30-50 overs. So replace the ball at 50-60 overs regardless of the color and the bowlers won't care - and Test Cricket is all about the bowling anyhow.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 15:17 GMT)

LOL this is pretty sad. Lets pretend light meters don't matter any more? That is the realistic view from many fans such as myself. Seriously, talk about people who don't understand physics. You have 3 formats for one game and you still want to keep tweaking it, changing how previous statistics are earnt. IF THIS IS TO GO AHEAD, then all test rankings should be rest, for every country. Rank 1-12.

Posted by Kashi0127 on (April 18, 2014, 14:58 GMT)

Only way i can think of Day Night Test Match succeeding is like what they have done for Center Court at Wimbledon. Have the whole ground covered and pray the height is sufficiently good enough that no one hits the ceiling! Perhaps go a bit beyond Wimbledon in that the top cover is always on unlike in the premier Tennis tourney where it may be used when it is raining. Essentially build a indoor cricket setup with sufficient air condition/ light etc that negates any night effects. I definitely agree, this brings a totally different dimension and performance here cannot be compared or equated to a all day cricket match.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 14:56 GMT)

They can't use white balls for test cricket, the ball needs to last 80 overs. White balls don't last 50 overs for an ODI, they use 2 balls so that each one only gets used for 25 overs.

They used orange balls in Shield cricket in the 90s & they were no good, now it seems that the pink ones aren't any good either.

Posted by inswing on (April 18, 2014, 14:25 GMT)

The advantage of day-night Tests - increased viewership - is obvious. What are the exact problems? Visibility would be lower so fast bowling will be hard to see? Balls wouldn't turn in the late hours? Ball durability? No one knows for sure. Trial 5-day matches at the first class level. Play many matches in several countries. Effects in India may be different than effects in Aus or SA. This is the only way to find out.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 14:08 GMT)

Why do we need pink balls? Why cannot we have white ball day-night test cricket? Instead of Kookaburra white balls ICC can simply order white balls from Duke and SG for matches played in England and Sub-continent respectively. Make the dresses of some colour rather than white - just one uniform colour. That will become the new tradition - White dress tests for day matches and (say) Dark Blue dress tests for day-night matches. Much simpler solution. Already the white ball is used and well tested in ODIs and T20s - both day matches and day-night matches and night matches (T20). Why do we have to go for another type of ball?

Posted by Sammy_Ind on (April 18, 2014, 13:58 GMT)

Another idea : Paint the pitch with some colors so that the Red Ball is visible during night. And even may be the grounds inner circle could be colored too. Just food for thoughts

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 13:38 GMT)

Forthright and no holding back as ever from KP. But I am not sure I am with him on this. If more people are to follow test cricket, perhaps day-night tests could help, and I am not sure it will undermine the game the way KP seems to think it might.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 13:24 GMT)

this guy has lost it for sure.

Posted by LillianThomson on (April 18, 2014, 12:51 GMT)

Test cricket's problem outside England and Australia is that 3 of the 5 days are work or school days.

A better option that 5 day Tests with three 2 hour sessions is 4 day Tests with three 2.5 hour sessions (e.g. 1-330, 4-630 and 7-930).

Two days would fall on the weekend and even the Friday and Monday attendance would be good because half the day's play would be after work.

I would expect South Africa and New Zealand to get much higher attendances and TV ratings.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 12:39 GMT)

The greatest question in this synopsis of night/pink-ball Test cricket is - who really benefits??? The audience/fans? The television networks? The stadium owners? Shows that the ICC does not understand its product and its appeal...

Posted by AjaySridharan on (April 18, 2014, 12:23 GMT)

I don't understand how the color of the ball will affect how it behaves or comes off the bat! It's not like you are making it from a different material

Posted by dwblurb on (April 18, 2014, 12:19 GMT)

It's the first time, but on this issue I completely agree with Pietersen.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 12:10 GMT)

The 1st test of the current SA summer v India with day 5 free admission and S.A chasing a record total very nicely barely saw half the stadium full,if that...on a Sunday with free admission! People would rather watch on tv...certainly England and Australia as well as Cape Town get some excellent crowds and other countries should try to emulate that.

K.P provides an excellent example of the way conditions can change at night.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 11:53 GMT)

I love test cricket just the way it is. I love cricket. What I would like is less 20/20 cricket, less meaningless ODI's and regular test series a summer. e.g. In South Africa, instead of waiting so long for West Indies or England to tour, I will be happy to have West Indies for 2 tests, Eng for 3 tests, and Sri Lanka for 2 tests...that will mean hopefully teams coming more regularly instead of waiting so long to watch them at home.

Pay test cricketers more than 20/20 cricketers and suddenly all will want to play test cricket...lets face, 20/20 is all about the money. That way test cricket can truly be the elite form of the game.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 11:46 GMT)

Whatever surplus money made from T20 should be used to run test matches. Just accept that there won't be as many audiences as T20 and move on.

Posted by fan_test_cricket on (April 18, 2014, 10:54 GMT)

People in Indian Sub Continent watch Australian Test Summer from 5 AM to 9 AM Indian Standard Time (almost two sessions on weekdays) and full days of a test match on Weekends.We also watch English Test Summer from 6.30 PM to 11.00 PM Indian Standard Time (almost two sessions on weekdays) and full days of a test match on Weekends.But if Day Night Test Matches materializes then working middle class of the Indian Subcontinent will not be able to watch Australian & English Test Cricket as it will interfere with their working hours (office timings - 9.30 AM to 6 PM IST). This is will indirectly affect the ICC revenue (generated from Broadcasting Companies - ESPN Star Sports etc). Let the viable,feasible and economically correct option of hosting DAY Test Matches must prevail.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (April 18, 2014, 10:37 GMT)

Tests are already a BORING format. Why make people even bored while they can do other quality things during the evenings ? For whatever time that Test cricket has left in its lifetime, keep it restricted to days. Please... ?

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 10:35 GMT)

day Night Test is not good idea from ICC who will watch 5 days continues ? so better to leave Test as a day match so Test will not died so far Fans are looking for more T20 ,even not much interested to watch 50 overs matches

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 10:25 GMT)

What will be the problem if the test matches are also played in color kits? Use the white ball for the day night matches and if there is a day match revert to white clothing and red ball. It won't be the end of the world if test match cricket gets a bit of color.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 10:13 GMT)

I think KP is saying is correct. If test cricket will advance 2 day-night, it will become very boring 2 and d batsman will not be able 2 c d pink color ball

Posted by Allen.Arendtsz on (April 18, 2014, 10:04 GMT)

@eddsnake..i believe your greatly mistaken my friend, if you go through SL's future tournaments to take place in the course of the next 6 months Sri lanka is planning on hosting - - India - A Tri-Series - West Indies including tests -and are planning on playing a few tests against South-Africa as well so judging by this as well as a great WT20 title i dont think Sri lanka is shying away from any test matches.. as they should be having enough to finance SL's cricket given that SL have won basically all the tournaments over the past few months.. Sri lanka loves cricket and i don't believe test matches are struggling to attract fans.. i think its just the case of trying to attract more countries like South Africa. Australia etc. to come and play their games in Sri Lanka..

Posted by fan_test_cricket on (April 18, 2014, 9:45 GMT)

Your are right KP.The first (& probably my last,if day night cricket materializes) International Cricket match I saw was a test between Eng vs India at Wankhede,Mumbai in Dec 2012 .KP your innings has to be the best ever by a cricketer outside of the Indian Subcontinent.I traveled from Pune to Churchgate Station, Mumbai and back to Pune by train on the Saturday as well as Sunday of the test match.If test matches are to be day night events then test match fans like me have to completely skip the idea of watching cricket altogether and turn to others sports.Also the dew factor in the Indian Subcontinent will completely take the spinners out of this new format.I Hope the tradition of test cricket which is more than 130 years old remains intact.

Posted by JavagalSrinath on (April 18, 2014, 9:39 GMT)

I do not understand why people makes things so complicated. If pink ball is an issue, then why don't they use white ball and colored clothing as it is in ODI and T20. If seemers take wicket in night in Durban and spinners don't then its nothing to worry. I would be happy that there is some new flavor in cricket. If it's really a problem then don't play in Durban. Another thing if its really hard to revive test cricket, then dont do it. I do not think in public has 5 days time to invest on 1 match.

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 9:38 GMT)

why not just change the colour of the kits and stick to the traditional white ball used in limited overs cricket? i know it sounds radical but its actually the most simple way to make night cricket work. the white ball has been used for so many years now so we can be sure of it lasting.

Posted by Suggsy on (April 18, 2014, 9:34 GMT)

@switchmitch, it's because the white ball would camouflage with the white jerseys that everyone wears, it would be hard to say... I don't understand why a day/night match is any different... Is a day/night ODI match any different to a day ODI match? The only difference is dew but I don't even think that's the issue... Pietersen hasn't given a solid point yet... How does sun light affect spinners?? I know the sun breaks up the pitch during the day, but why can't they let the sun do its job in the day when the players aren't playing, spinners can still turn the ball in the night is my point. Day/night matches would bring in so much more revenue as people can actually watch the match after a day's work in their offices.

Posted by HatsforBats on (April 18, 2014, 9:30 GMT)

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this is a stupid idea. Just considering the differing environmental conditions the teams will be exposed to boggles the mind: it is possible that team A could bat in sunshine throughout the test while team B has to bat under lights (while team A deals with dew on the ball once the sun goes down). I sincerely hope the pink ball trials fail. Better marketing, grass roots development, delayed telecasts for prime time viewing, any other solution is more appealing in my mind.

Posted by Yaswanth.Ram on (April 18, 2014, 9:29 GMT)

Whats the fun in playing in the night?? Its jus wasting the power!! Many countries are in great need of electricity!! This is simply wasting money and resources!!

Posted by   on (April 18, 2014, 9:28 GMT)

Kp being opinionated... Excuse me a moment, I've got a grain of salt here somewhere.

Posted by steve48 on (April 18, 2014, 9:20 GMT)

Well said KP. What about the dew factor? Day /night cricket only works in some countries as it is in limited over formats, never mind trying it in 'real' cricket!

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (April 18, 2014, 9:15 GMT)

In Australia this summer they were saying that of the Test grounds MCG & SCG would be ruled out as they are iconic Tests, the dew in Brisbane wouldnt allow it and the time difference to the Eastern states would rule out the WACA in Perth. The only 'possible' was Adelaide and I would imagine with all the redevelopment there they would prefer to use their catering & hospitality facilities (a big thing in Adelaide) during the day rather than at 10pm. I think it may become a possibility for some Sheffield Shield games but Test cricket should stay as a day game.

Posted by Ranwick on (April 18, 2014, 9:14 GMT)

What's the actual difference between the pink and red ball? Apart from the obvious.

Posted by switchmitch on (April 18, 2014, 9:08 GMT)

There is another "idea" which has not found too much traction among the cricket pundits - Test cricket in domed Stadia. A domed stadium with floodlights is almost similar to day/night ODIs. They can use white cricket balls instead of the pink ones. Why is this not a viable alternative to pink ball test cricket?

Posted by eddsnake on (April 18, 2014, 8:56 GMT)

Well said KP, the ICC need to bin this idea and instead promote cheap tickets in the countries where test cricket is struggling to attract fans (WI, SL, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe). Of course SL and Zim's boards are virtually bankrupt and so keep cancelling any home test matches they have anyway!

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