File photo: Misbah-ul-Haq has said, “lining up for high catches for fielders was a challenge as the visibility of the pink ball wasn’t all that great” © Getty Images and Cricket Australia
The recent experiment with pink ball in Pakistan domestic cricket saw the players complain about the visibility of the ball under floodlights. The major concern, they said, was the quality of the ball once it got older, as it didn’t hold up well for both batting and fielding.
The PCB tested the pink ball in the final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s premier first-class tournament, played in Karachi this week between United Bank Limited, led by Younis Khan, and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, captained by Misbah-ul-Haq. No batsman could score a hundred, but the fast bowlers had a more productive stint – they took 27 of the 34 wickets, with Bilawal Bhatti finishing with match figures of 11 for 95, including 8 for 56 in the third innings of the match.
The ball used in the match was not the up-to-date version of the Kookaburra, which is a more workable ball for day-night Tests, and was used in the first ever day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand last month.
Here’s what the Pakistani players said about the use of the pink ball in the QEA final:
Azhar Ali, Pakistan ODI captain and SNGPL middle-order batsman
“I am not fully comfortable yet but I’m open to more experiments in future. It was a completely new experience for us but overall it went well with some concerns in visibility. I feel with the cleaner environment, like we saw in Australia, it would be great as in winters here it’s more hazy.
“There was basically some difficulty in the visibility after sunset but it was better with the ball being new. However, as soon as the ball got older, we found it difficult to see it. It also swung more than usual in the night.
“So as soon it’s used the floodlights, especially during dusk, you really have to focus hard. As a fielder it’s hard to see the ball from square of the wicket and sometimes it’s a complete miss. Taking high catches was the other issue, as the older ball gets blurrier.”
Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan Test captain and SNGPL captain
“With heavy dew in Karachi, the conditions became extremely difficult for batsmen, especially under the lights. The new pink ball was seaming a lot, the moisture on the pitch (due to heavy dew) made it tough for the batsmen. Even lining up for high catches for fielders was a challenge as the visibility of the ball wasn’t all that great. Perhaps the players need more time to get familiar with the ball.
“These day-night Test matches are required, as cricket has become commercial now like other sports. What is important is to keep on evolving and it’s important for the public interest and as a professional player we also have to get used to it.
“Considering the future with day-night cricket, I think everyone should be playing it and in Pakistan domestic cricket every team should get at least two or three matches every season and not just the final. The tradition of Test cricket should remain intact but it’s fair to do the development and keep on trying to bring innovation. The experiment may or may not work or it might not be practical or suitable, but there is no harm in carrying it out for the best interest of the game.”
Taufeeq Umar, SNGPL opening batsman
“Probably it’s more about the ball being old. The ball started to get rough, darker and starting mixing up with the light. The time when the floodlights came on and sunlight went down, that was a tricky time and by then if the ball is old and rough, the visibility is the problem for a batsman and fielder as well. As soon as the lacquer came off, the pinkish colour started to fade out and you really have to push hard to concentrate.”
Shan Masood, United Bank opening batsman
“There wasn’t a difference as such, but yes when you try to change the norm you definitely need some time to settle in. Probably we are not used to it so far, so need more games with the pink ball to get it going.
“With dew factor and artificial light coming in, it obviously changes the conditions. With the pink ball the only concern I saw was the lacquer had come off and it was turning multi-coloured at some stage. There were bits of pink left and in lights with dew, the ball skids more than usual, but as a batsman you tend to adjust.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo