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Durham in Abu Dhabi - Diary part two

Pink cricket balls
The pink balls look flashy when new but soon wear once smashed about the park

By Martin Emmerson
BBC Newcastle's Durham cricket reporter in Abu Dhabi

It's all about pink balls out here in Abu Dhabi with the trial of the new Kookaburra ball being considered a success so far by the powers that be at the MCC. The players seem to like it as well.

I have to say though I am not a fan. Commentating on this match from the fifth floor of the pavilion - the highest position I've ever watched cricket from - is not exactly an easy task.

The ball stands out quite well when it is new, but after a few overs when the cover has been knocked off it, the ball becomes very difficult to see.

Under the floodlights also proves a problem from this lofty perch, although when the ball is silhouetted against the night sky it is easy to see.

They changed the ball after 90 overs and the replacement was like a breath of fresh air.

Suddenly it was easy to see again. In the overs before it was changed, Durham batsman Dale Benkenstein was bowled by Glamorgan spinner Dean Cosker.

A number of the Durham players were sitting in the press box with me at the time and there were a few giggles when I suggested Dale may have been deceived by "a wrong-un". The fact is I couldn't really see what happened. It appears Dale couldn't see it either.

It was great to see Michael Di Venuto and Kyle Coetzer in the runs again. Both made centuries on the opening day. Kyle batted out the entire day spending 367 minutes in the middle.

Diva [Di Venturo] says the new ball is okay but he finds watching the seam difficult, especially with the spinners.

Keith Bradshaw, the MCC's chief executive, says they may have to look at making the seams darker to help the batsmen.

But with both openers making hundreds it would appear things weren't too difficult for them.


It's always nice to hear the thoughts of Geoffrey Boycott. I always find him entertaining when he's on Test Match Special. He tells it as it is and pulls no punches.

Geoff Boycott
Martin has been enjoying the forthright views of Geoff Boycott

He's out here with the MCC because he is a member of their World Cricket Committee. He is also one of the people who suggested the idea of day/night Tests and pink balls.

Geoff thinks something needs to be done to keep Test cricket going and judging by what he had to say it's taken a long time to get to this stage.

Interestingly, he was a little bit taken aback by the MCC's selection here, suggesting they were crying out for a good wrist-spinner on this docile track.

"My mother could get runs on this," was one comment.

The discussion eventually moved onto foreign players in the English came. He suggested people should not be allowed to play for England until they have lived in the country for 10 years - not the four which is the current rule.

He then cited Michael Di Venuto and Kyle Coetzer as examples of foreigners in the English game.

When I pointed out Kyle was born in Aberdeen, was raised there and educated there, Geoff still wasn't impressed.

"You can't tell me Coetzer is a Scottish name," he said. "I have a house in South Africa and that is a South African name. Where's his dad from?"

I checked my Durham yearbook to verify that Kyle was indeed Scottish and plays for Scotland.

Then I claimed his dad is called Hamish. Not true and quickly spotted by a wise Geoff Boycott as well.

For the record, Kyle's family are originally from South Africa but he's as Scottish as Bass Rock.

Slip of the tongue

Durham chairman Clive Leech popped into the press box to do a bit of commentary with me. During our chat he confirmed South African Albie Morkel will be returning to the club for the Twenty20 campaign this summer.

Albie Morkel
Morkel enjoyed a first stint at Durham during the 2008 season

Albie had an instant impact when he was here two years ago and helped Durham get out of their group for the first time.

Clive also let slip that Ross Taylor, the big-hitting Kiwi, is on his way as well. Taylor had just scored the quickest Test century for his country the day before.

However, seconds after telling me this great piece of information, Clive then said on air that perhaps he should not have said anything just yet because he wasn't sure if the deal had been signed off.

Seconds later I received a text from a pal working for a 24-hour satellite broadcaster thanking me for this great piece of info. Remember though folks, you heard it here first on the BBC.

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