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September 11, 2011
Cricket will take another step towards a new era next week when Kent and Glamorgan stage their County Championship match under floodlights with the pink ball in the latest part of trials to see whether the format is viable for first-class and Test matches.
While reaction to the experiment has been mixed - and spectators could well end up huddled under blankets with a Thermos - Gary Keedy, the Lancashire spinner, who was part of the MCC match against Nottinghamshire in Abu Dhabi when the same format was used in March, believes the proposals have a future.
"The game in Abu Dhabi for me was a total success," Keedy told ESPNcricinfo. "I support the experiment and whether it works in this country only time will tell. I wouldn't want to play a competitive match until a few games had been played and everyone was happy with the outcome. I'm not saying Kent-Glamorgan won't be competitive but it will be the ideal time to try it out.
"My experience is that if you give it enough chances - and it will probably take more than one or two games to find out - that it can be a success. There is arguably a tough period at twilight where the transition from light to dark can be difficult, but we've all played under floodlights and we can all bat under floodlights, we are not strangers to that any more."
Although Keedy's primary role is with the ball he did have a chance to experience conditions with the bat in Abu Dhabi and didn't think they would be too tough to overcome. "I actually had a chance in the twilight period. It's like anything, once you adapt to conditions everything becomes easier. To start with you have to get used to picking the ball up, seeing the shadows and once you get through that it's just like batting as normal."
The Championship game at Canterbury is set to be played using a pink Tiflex ball - the manufacturer that has provided balls for Division Two - but in the longer term Keedy suggests that the Duke brand may be the best solution if a pink version can be produced because he has found that ball lasts longest. One of the main concerns about the coloured ball for first-class cricket is whether it will stay in decent condition for 80 overs.
"The white Kookaburra scuffs up quite quickly and can go from pink to brown, depending on the surface, but if they are prepared to change the ball that could be a solution," Keedy said. "I actually find it easier to bowl with a brand-new Kookaburra than I do a brand-new Dukes, whether it's the seam or lacquer I don't know. So, for me, a pink Kookaburra is certainly easier to bowl with but it's one of those things that we won't know until we try it."
Despite the floodlit experiment now arriving in county cricket the English game is probably the least likely market for the format in the future, partly because of the climate and also because international crowds - which is the ultimate reason for the idea of floodlit Tests - are still healthy in England.
"The one thing you'll get by playing in September is you know it will be dark whereas if you tried it earlier in the summer you'd barely need the floodlights so it would defeat the objective," Keedy said. "In the subcontinent it's dark at six so it works brilliantly. If you are playing mid-June in a floodlit game [in England] you could be playing at 9 o'clock and not need the lights."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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