De Villiers raises concerns on day-night Test, Steyn keen to play

AB de Villiers on the pink ball used in day-night Tests: “he pink ball has had some issues with how it responds to 80 overs of Test cricket.” © Getty Images

AB de Villiers, South Africa’s Test captain, has voiced concerns over the day-night match in Adelaide and has suggested that a few Australia players may also be reluctant to go ahead with the game. His team-mate Dale Steyn, however, has said he would “love” to play a day-night Test.

The third Test of the series between Australia and South Africa has been allotted to Adelaide between November 24 and 28, according to the 2016-17 summer fixtures released by Cricket Australia, but there is no confirmation yet on whether this will be a day-night game. With the possibility of a No. 1 Test ranking at stake in the match, de Villiers said that that a day-night game could be “fundamental change” to the itinerary.

“At the moment, we are not too keen on playing in the proposed day-night Test match due to a few concerns that have come from a number of sources involved in the maiden Test played last year,” he told Independent Media. “We had a meeting with Steven Smith and some of the Australian players when they toured here earlier this year, and the consensus from our talks were that there are just too many unknowns. Players from both teams were reluctant to go ahead with it.

“South Africa and Australia have a great cricketing rivalry, and this is a series that we value. We could well be playing for an opportunity to regain the No.1 Test ranking, so playing a day-night match is a fundamental change to the itinerary.

The first ever day-night Test, between Australia and New Zealand in Adelaide last year, was dominated by quick bowlers and ended in three days with a three-wicket win for the hosts. De Villiers raised doubts about the durability of the pink-ball used in the format, and said that alterations to the pitch, to reduce wear and tear on the ball, were also a significant factor.

“The pink ball has had some issues with how it responds to 80 overs of Test cricket and that is one of the key issues that we feel plays a big role in the success of the day-night Test,” De Villiers said. “The pitch also had to be ‘doctored’ to minimise the abrasive wear and tear to the pink ball, which seems to happen quicker than the red ball, and this is also an area we feel is a big factor in the run of play.”

Steyn admitted South Africa could be at a disadvantage if the Adelaide match ends up as a series decider, but stressed that a couple of first-class practice games would help the side become more accustomed to the pink ball.

“I don’t want to go through my whole career without playing a day-night game,” Steyn told cricket.com.au in Rajkot, where he is playing the IPL. “How cool are they? I thought it looked awesome when New Zealand and Australia played one.

“It looked entertaining, there was a big crowd. The ball is pink – it’s something different. You want to test your skills with that whole thing and it’s very exciting.

“The difficult part of it comes in if it’s one-all and we go into a decider and we play a Test match we’ve never really played before, we’ve never used the pink ball before. That could be a little bit of an issue for the guys.

“Australia, having played one before and having played a few first-class games, would have the upper hand on us in that sense. We’re not moaning about it, it would just not be a level playing field.

“One first-class game, maybe two first-class games and I think the boys will be extremely into it. Right now I’m leaving it to CSA and for them to make a decision, but to be honest with you I’d love to play one.”

De Villiers did not believe that one practice match could help his side adjust to the pink ball: “I don’t think it (warm-up game) will. I don’t think it’s something that you acclimatize to in one match and the intensity of an international cricket match also brings in other factors which are hard to replicate in a warm-up match.”

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Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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