Pink ball the solution for fading light?

South Africa's Imran Tahir throwing a ball during a practice session ahead of their third one-day international cricket match against India in Rajkot, India, on Oct 17, 2015.
South Africa's Imran Tahir throwing a ball during a practice session ahead of their third one-day international cricket match against India in Rajkot, India, on Oct 17, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • The long-term solution to the problem of bad light curtailing finishes to cricket Test matches, despite floodlights, could be the permanent use of a different coloured ball.

Acknowledging that the sport had a "problem", Dave Richardson, chief executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC), said the players' reaction to the first day-night Test in Adelaide next month would have some bearing on whether a pink or yellow ball could be used throughout games in the future.

England saw their hopes of a miraculous victory in the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi scuppered on Saturday when they were forced off the field by the umpires while 25 runs short of their target.

England's captain, Alastair Cook, admitted it had been frustrating not to complete the victory despite the presence of floodlights in the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

No blame could be attached to the umpires, who followed the letter of the law and based their decision on the light meter reading taken the day before.

England refused to apportion blame, but there is no doubt that the finish was unsatisfactory for spectators and that the game has an image problem.

Following on from similar scenes at the Kia Oval in London during the Ashes in 2013, the ICC tried to persuade the players and coaches of all international teams to play on in artificial light that would be far from perfect but acceptable, only to be rebuffed.

"In the past we have tried to say that if we are using floodlights then it should be good enough," Richardson said. "But we met with resistance. Teams haven't accepted that.

"Long term, we will probably end up with a pink or 'greeny-yellow' ball so that we can play under floodlights."

The Marylebone Cricket Club world cricket committee has long encouraged the game's authorities to try day-night Tests with the use of a pink ball as a way of encouraging bigger crowds.

To that end, the guardians of cricket's laws and the champion county have played day-night four-day games with a pink ball in the UAE since 2010 as a curtain raiser for the English season.

Next month, New Zealand and Australia are set to make history when the first day-night Test match will be played in Adelaide with a pink ball.

While Richardson is not convinced that it will cure all of Test cricket's ills, and may not help crowds in the UAE necessarily, the experiment will be keenly watched to see how the players fare with a different coloured ball that will be used both during daytime and under lights.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2015, with the headline 'Pink ball the solution for fading light?'. Print Edition | Subscribe