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Starc unimpressed by pink ball

Even though it was the latest in countless versions of the pink balls trialled by Cricket Australia's official supplier Kookaburra, Mitchell Starc said it was nothing like using the traditional red ball

Daniel Brettig
Daniel Brettig
The Australian cricketer with the most relevant experience of the pink ball to be used in next summer's day-night Test experiment against New Zealand admits he could not see the ball when fielding and has other serious reservations about the concept.
Mitchell Starc played for New South Wales in a day-night Sheffield Shield fixture against South Australia at Adelaide Oval last summer, the same ground where the Test will be played. He is "yet to be convinced".
Even though it was the latest in countless versions of the pink balls trialled by Cricket Australia's official supplier Kookaburra, Starc said it was nothing like using the traditional red ball.
"It's definitely not a red ball," Starc said. "It doesn't react anything like the red ball, in terms of swing and the hardness of it anyway. It goes soft pretty quickly, I didn't see a huge amount of reverse swing in that game and I don't think it swung from memory too much until the artificial light took over. It definitely reacts very, very differently to the red ball.
"The other thing as well is, personally, I couldn't see the thing at night on the boundary. I couldn't see the ball. So I'm not sure how the crowd are going to see it. I understand the pink ball has changed a lot from when it first came in for trials. It's improved a lot, so Kookaburra has done well there.
"But time will tell if it works with the crowds and the viewership and the way that cricketers respond to it. We can understand why it's happening - they want to grow the game and attract more people to the game at the different times it's going to be played."
Echoing the words of Kevin Pietersen, Starc said a fresh set of statistics may have to be minted for day-night Tests if they went beyond next season's experiment. "Yeah, absolutely that could come into it," he said. "At the moment, for the time being, it's only going to be that Test between Australia and New Zealand. It's not going to be South Africa playing the West Indies, they're not going to have the same results.
"Guys like Chris Rogers - whether he is available or not - the fact that he can't see the pink ball means he can't play. He's not the only player out there who is going to be affected by seeing the ball. It's an interesting point. Whether you have to start a whole new set of stats for the pink ball, as you do with the red and white ball, I guess it throws up a huge number of questions and theories about where the game is going."
Other members of the Australian Ashes squad weighed in with various views on the day-night innovation. Steven Smith and Brad Haddin spoke enthusiastically about it, on the basis that now the decision was made there was no point in worrying. Josh Hazlewood was less effusive, but willing to give it a try.
Shane Watson, who has been deeply involved in discussions through his role on the executive of the Australian Cricketers Association, said there was little point in drawing conclusions until the match had been played, after which it would be possible to decide whether it would be a fixture like day-night ODI matches or a one-off like the World XI Super Test of 2005.
"It's obviously something Cricket Australia and Channel Nine especially have been really very, very strong on to be able to really try," Watson said. "I'm sure we'll only know by playing it either way whether it's a great thing for the game of Test cricket or whether it's not. So until we actually play I think it's very hard to be able to make any judgements on because it's really only the proof of how it pans out.
"I talked to Tim Southee quite a lot during the IPL about where their team were at and what they were thinking. But I think it's definitely the unknown of one the ball and how that's going to react. Most of us haven't played a game with the pink ball so that's a big unknown how that's going to play but also how the conditions might change when the sun goes down and how that could really affect the Test match.
"What I've heard is after the Bangladesh tour [in October] there's three days at home before then. They've put in I think a round of day-night shield games in the lead up so there's already a hell of a lot of cricket around already. So there's no doubt the best preparation will be playing that game.
"You're going to be playing for your country and every game that you play you know how important it is so the preparation is certainly not going to be ideal apart from throwing in a day-night Shield game in the lead up to it. So it's just going to be interesting to see how it does pan out. It's not until we actually play a game and the other guys play a game whether we'll really know whether it's a great thing for world cricket or whether it's something that might be moved on."
The final word on the topic can be left to Mitchell Johnson, who while declining to enlarge too much upon the topic, made his own statement clearly enough.
"I don't really want to talk about it now and I'll happily talk about it after this Ashes series," he said. "But one thing is I love the tradition of Test cricket, things like the Baggy Green and little things like wearing the woollen jumper. We had an option to change that but we wanted to keep that as a tradition. I think tradition in the game is very important."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig