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Pink ball makes debut at Lord's

By David Ornstein
BBC Sport at Lord's


Scotland's Ryan Watson faces the new pink ball
Scotland's Ryan Watson faces the new pink ball

A pink cricket ball was used for the first time in a match in England on Monday as an MCC XI defeated Scotland in a 50-over encounter at Lord's.

If the trial is successful, the pink ball may be used in Twenty20 games and limited overs internationals in 2009.

White balls discoloured by the grass are difficult for fielders and batsmen to see in certain light conditions.

They also scuff up quickly and have to be mandatorily replaced after 35 overs in one-day matches.

The first trial of the pink ball, at a women's match in Brisbane in January between Queensland and Western Australia, was deemed a success.

And for the game at Lord's, two different makes of ball were used - a Kookaburra during Scotland's innings and a Dukes ball when it was the MCC team's turn to bat.

"MCC were tasked with finding a white ball that lasts the course," the club's head of cricket, John Stephenson told BBC Sport.

"But Kookaburra presented me with a luminous pink ball and I thought it had potential, so we decided to play various research games this summer and this is the start of it.

"At the end of the summer we'll draw some conclusions, which I will report to the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] at the end of the year," the former Hampshire, Essex and England batsman said.

If it was up to me I would speed up the process because it is a far better coloured ball for cricket

Ryan Watson, Scotland batsman

Scotland batted first and, with captain Ryan Watson scoring 91 off just 113 balls, knocked up a score of 253-7.

However the MCC secured a four wicket victory, reaching 257-6 with eight balls to spare.

Stephenson was encouraged by the way the pink ball - which is really a dyed white ball - stood up to the punishment.

"After 50 overs the ball was still very visible. A bit of the pink dye had come off it, but all it had revealed was the white coating [underneath], so we've made some progress already."

Former Kent and England bowler Min Patel, who took 1-37 for the MCC, believes there is little difference between the new and old balls and sees no reason why the pink version will not be used in future internationals.

Min Patel bowling for MCC
Former Kent spinner Min Patel sees if the new ball will turn
"The ball didn't behave any differently, it didn't react any differently, and if anything it was a lot easier to pick up in the deep when you're fielding," he said.

"With white clouds and white seats a white ball would have been very difficult to pick up but not in this case, the ball certainly stood out.

"We're trying to attract people into the game and keep those who are already into it here, so if the ball is easier for them to watch from the boundary ropes then that's going to be a plus.

"Having played with it I don't see any reason why it won't be used in international cricket."

Scotland's Watson was in agreement: "It was easier to pick up than the white ball," he added.

"The true test will come on an abrasive surface. Will it hold its colour? The red ball does so there is not reason why the pink should not do so.

"The design of most cricket grounds now include white seats and if you don't get a full house then a pink ball would be far easier to see.

"If it was up to me I would speed up the process because it is a far better coloured ball for cricket."

606: DEBATE

It is 30 years since white balls were first introduced in Australia during the second year of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket.

Since that time, there were experiments with an orange ball in England in 1989, but it did not show up clearly on TV during day-night matches and the experiment was abandoned.

Once again, according to Stephenson, it will be television which ultimately decides the fate of the new pink ball.

"The spectators said they could see it pretty well, but it would be interesting to see how it work under lights in day/night conditions and on television - that's going to be a crucial part of the research.

"If it doesn't work at night then we've got a problem, but it's definitely going to last the 50 overs, no doubt about it," he said.




see also
Pretty in pink
17 Apr 08 |  Sport Homepage


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