Australia batsman Adam Voges has expressed severe doubt about the ability of the experimental pink ball to hold up to 80 overs of battering in the upcoming day-night Adelaide Test, saying the ball had lost its colouring and was “more green than pink” by the end of the 50-over Prime Minister’s XI fixture against New Zealand.
The manufacturer, Kookaburra, has gone through countless variations of the pink ball over the past five years in an effort to find a workable ball for day-night Tests, but Voges said the latest edition “didn’t hold up very well at all” to fewer than 50 overs of use at Manuka Oval, which has pitch characteristics not dissimilar to those expected in Adelaide.
Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards and his heir apparent David Peever were seen closely observing the balls used in the match after the game. The various doubts raised by numerous players about a host of aspects of the experiment – including visibility, the quality of cricket and the change in conditions from day to night – will only be thrown into sharper focus by Voges’ critique.
“There wasn’t much pink left on it by the end of the game,” Voges said. “The one that got hit onto the roof [by Martin Guptill] and didn’t come back was 28 overs old and it looked like it was 68 overs old to be fair. To be honest, it didn’t hold up very well at all tonight.
“It looked as though the lacquer had come off and it was turning green basically. There were bits of pink left, but it was more green than pink by the end. I know that it stopped swinging, there was no reverse-swing or anything like that because both sides get chunked up equally, but yeah the older it gets, I can’t see it being any easier to see.”
Voges’ previous experience of the pink ball had been in Brisbane and Perth, where the hard pitches and lush green outfields preserved its condition in an adequate fashion, though the ball swung extravagantly at times and made batting difficult. However at Manuka, pronounced early swing for Trent Boult and Tim Southee that left the PM’s XI in early trouble later gave way to featureless passages of cricket devoid of any movement or pace with diminishing visibility.
“The two [Sheffield] Shield games I played with it were in Brisbane and Perth and it held up pretty well there. But this is my first experience of lower, slower wickets,” Voges said. “They’re very good new-ball bowlers and the key will be to get through their first spells and then get them back for second and third spells – as we saw with the pink ball tonight, in both innings, get them into their second spell and it can be a different story.”
Other Australian players, including Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood, have expressed reservations about the concept, while the former captain Ricky Ponting has said he was “always against” an experiment that tampered with Test cricket’s traditions.
Whatever has been said, one thing is now certain – there is no time to address the issues raised by the PM’s XI match before the Adelaide Test is played from November 27.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.