Cricket will no longer be the same when the first ball is bowled at Adelaide on Friday November 27th. Australia and New Zealand will be the first teams to grace the change as the game takes a leap of faith. We are talking about the advent of day-night cricket and the arrival of pink ball.
One of the primary concerns and the biggest reason behind this change is dwindling attendances at Test matches. Except the Ashes and series involving India, vacant seats in the stadiums greet the men in white. This is a phenomenon across the world wherever you go, and brought a need for something different.
It is easy to equate the loss of interest in Test matches to the rise in prominence of ODIs and T20s – especially the shortest form. With the advent of many national leagues, T20 is a format that is easy to follow and doesn’t demand much from the busy schedules of followers.
There is another school of thought though, that says that if the Test matches start late in the day and go into the evening, people would embrace the game during prime time viewing. This is exactly where the concept of ODI cricket was born, so perhaps the same popularity can translate into the Test arena. With suitable timings and appealing prices, administrators hope that there will be less vacant seats in the grounds.
Cometh the pink ball!
With so much at stake for all parties involved, so much will depend on the performance of the pink ball in this very important contest. Never before in the history of Test matches have we seen a situation where the ball draws more attention than the game itself. However there are still many concerns that remain unclear. How will the ball react under lights? Will the ball hold its colour? How much will it swing? Etc, etc.
Cricket Australia was so desperate to put all these to bed that they kicked in $1 million to convince players from both Australia and New Zealand to play this innovative kick-starter. New Zealand has already played some cricket with the pink ball, including the recent tour match against Western Australia.
There were mixed reviews for the ball and the WA centurion, Sam Whiteman, even suggested that it became hard to pick up the ‘old pink ball’. The second new ball swung more than the first too, but once the batsmen were set, it was pretty much like batting against the red ball.
Test cricket will hear the words ‘pink cherry’ for the first time this Friday. The trans-Tasman rivals will write a new chapter in their rivalry as the whole world looks upon Adelaide with much excitement and a little worry. Will the ball stand up to the adulation? Here’s a closer look at how the Kookaburra factory in Melbourne is producing the biggest talking point of the 3rd Test - the pink ball.
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