The ever-evolving pink ball that will be used for the third South Africa-Australia Adelaide Test will be very different from the one used during the inaugural day/night game at the same venue last November. Kookaburra spokesman Shannon Gill said the company has addressed most of the issues raised by players over the last one year. In their feedback, spinners said they couldn’t grip the ball well, pacers moaned about the lack of reverse swing while batsmen had a tough time keeping an eye on the seam.
Talking to The Indian Express, Gill says after a series of trials, they now have a better product that will find more acceptability.
“Interestingly, during the lead-up to the Dubai Test (which was the second pink ball Test) between Pakistan and the West Indies, leg-spinner Yasir Shah said he found it better to grip as compared to the regular red ball. He went on to take five wickets in the first innings before Devendra Bishoo, the West Indies leg-spinner, took 8-49 later in the match. We’ve already been trialling methods to strengthen the seam for the traditionally more abrasive conditions which would be encouraging for spinners,” Gill said.
What has made the manufacturer’s job tough is varying demands of bowlers and batsmen. In order to provide better visibility to batsmen post-dusk, Kookaburra made the ball shiny by adding an extra layer of lacquer. However, that meant the ball would not get scruffed up as easily, thus denying the pacers reverse swing.
Reverse swing, better grip
However, Gill said the feedback from players in the Sheffield Shield has been encouraging. “On reverse swing, the need to keep the ball visible changes the dynamics for what we now understand as reverse swing — and the visibility of the ball remains the priority. But just as reverse swing took years to understand and perfect, it’s likely bowlers will work out ways to do it with the pink ball. We’ve had feedback from the latest round of Sheffield Shield cricket that players were getting reverse swing.”
Reverse swing and better grip of the pink ball are not the only reasons why there has been so much intrigue leading up to Thursday’s Adelaide Test match. South Africa’s captain Faf Du Plessis gives a more plausible explanation. “When they said they changed the seam, made it black and it would have better visibility, things started changing. We just wanted to be part of something and not miss out and see what’s it all about.” he told ESPNCricinfo.
Last year’s Adelaide Day/Night Test featured a pink ball with a green and white seam. The feedback from players was that they found the seam a little hard to pick up as the contrast wasn’t as great as the one they’re conditioned to with the red ball and white seam. Hence, Kookaburra trialled a pink ball with a black seam to make the contrast greater. The new avatar was used in Sheffield Shield cricket in February, and the feedback was positive and encouraging.
India is still some way off from hosting its first Day/Night pink ball Test. The selectors and the players have welcomed the new initiative. One of the national selectors had even suggested that they were open to using it on a trial basis in the Ranji Trophy. However, Gill said he was still awaiting a formal report from the BCCI in this regard.
“We haven’t received any specific formal report from the BCCI but the anecdotal feedback during the Duleep Trophy from players, fans and media was positive. So if the BCCI were looking to trial again we’d welcome the opportunity,” Gill added.