Australia fast bowler John Hastings is the latest to hedge his bets when it comes to the pink ball. It was in use in Victoria’s opening match of the Sheffield Shield season against Queensland at the MCG and Hastings mentioned at the end of the first day’s play that the pink ball lost its hardness rather quickly, and also pointed out that it doesn’t swing after approximately 15 overs leading to “a boring brand of cricket.”
As a workaround, Hastings suggested changing it after 50 overs of use rather than 80 overs as is custom with the red ball. “It’s certainly better than the first few pink-ball games that we’ve played but I think there’s a fair bit of work to do,” he said. “The main issue for me is the hardness of the ball. It just doesn’t stack up to the red ball. Maybe if we change the ball at around 50-55 overs and get a new one or a semi-new one, it might be a better contest towards the end.
“We’ve bowled about 15-16 overs with it and it stopped swinging,” he said. “It’s just a matter of the ball doesn’t move off the straight. It’s tough work. All you’ve got to do is set straight fields and it’s quite a boring brand of cricket when do have that pink ball.”
If conventional swing was restricted, Hastings felt reverse swing with the pink ball was underwhelming. “It did actually go a little bit there at times. It wasn’t consistent. But the main thing is that when you get a red ball to go reverse, it’s actually quite hard and it can zip off the wicket. But with the pink ball we didn’t really get the zip off the wicket.”
Hastings also indicated the fielders found it difficult to pick up the ball as it got discolored, echoing the comments made by Test batsman Adam Voges after the PM’s XI match against the touring New Zealanders. Cricket Australia, however, said it did not read too much into the issues.
It was noted that with a lush outfield the pink ball’s durability was increased, but when the pitch and the outfield were abrasive – as in Manuka Oval where the PM’s XI match was held – the deterioration happened faster. Adelaide Oval, where the inaugural day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand beings on November 27, shares that trait. It is hosting a Shield match currently, where it is understood that the groundstaff were encouraged to prepare a grassy surface to keep the pink ball functioning optimally.
When asked if the difficulty in sighting the pink ball posed safety concern for the players, Hastings said. “I don’t really know. It could well be but I’m not 100% sure. I felt okay at mid-on, I felt I could pick it up okay.”
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