South Africa came through their first outing with the pink ball without any problems in their tour match at the Adelaide Oval. In preparation for their first day-night Test, South Africa's batsmen spent 133.5 overs facing the pink ball and their centurion Quinton de Kock explained that it was not as tricky as they thought it would be.
"I didn't find any difference," de Kock said. "I am not one to overthink it. A ball is a ball. I just play the way I should be playing in that situation, it's no difference to me."
De Kock warned spectators not to read too much into the performances. "It doesn't bother me whether I score a duck or a hundred. To me a warm-up game and a net is the same thing. When it comes to game time and focus time, I like to contribute where I can," he said.
De Kock only batted in the first innings and scored 122 of 103 balls. Hashim Amla (51), JP Duminy (97) and Rilee Rossouw (77 in the second innings) also got comfortable, but openers Dean Elgar and Stephen Cook, and the captain Faf du Plessis did not capitalise on their starts. They will have a second opportunity to get their eyes in, when South Africa play another day-night practice match in Melbourne before the third Test, which will be played with the pink ball.
For de Kock, the two things that stood out were not different from what he faces in any other game. "Early on, I found it a little difficult but I think that is part of any cricket, white ball or red ball," he said. "I also found the outfield quite slow. Normally, you play on a square back home so it's easier to hit the boundaries. With a drop-in pitch, hitting boundaries was a bit harder."
De Kock also played down the difficulty of batting during the twilight period, when natural light is replaced by artificial light. "I thought it was quite nice during the twilight period, actually," he said.
That period was also when South Africa's bowlers found it best to use the pink ball. "It seems to nip around when the lights come on but not so much during the day," fast bowler Kyle Abbott said. "There was a bit of grass on this wicket. Not a huge amount of swing, just a bit more nip off the surface."
Abbott joked that the South African team thought they had not seen that much grass on a surface in "the last seven years," and that he would not mind if a similar amount was left for the Tests, albeit of a slightly greener variety.
The ground staff may have to do something like that because the pink ball's reputation for early deterioration remains. "After 15 overs or so, it [the ball] started to peel," Abbott said.
South Africa's five quicks bowled in short spells and took two wickets each to end their first warm-up successfully. Tabraiz Shamsi, the only spinner, bowled only three overs without any wickets.