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Pink ball leaving question marks: Siddle

Test quick keen to play day-night Shield clash before making final call on new ball

Australia quick Peter Siddle has echoed the concerns of Test teammate Adam Voges over the deterioration of the pink ball in last night’s Prime Minister’s XI versus New Zealand clash on an abrasive pitch at Canberra’s Manuka Oval.

Siddle said the loss of colour on the pink ball – being used ahead of its international debut in next month’s historic day-night Test match at the Adelaide Oval – would have been amplified by the dryness of the surface at Manuka, with curators preparing the pitch for a one-day clash.

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However, the paceman said the wear and tear evident on the ball, as well as the fact that it appeared to swing more at the beginning of the second innings, were cause for concern.

Voges made 55 under lights for the PM’s XI and said post-match the ball “got pretty chewed” as the innings wore on.

“Exactly what ‘Vogesy’ said, it was just a bit hard to (pick up),” Siddle told Triple M Melbourne.

“The pink started to disappear quite quickly.

“Obviously the Manuka pitch here is a bit more abrasive than most pitches going around, but that was the most disappointing thing, was the ball sort of changing colour.

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“And it’s a little bit hard to shine. It’s not really like a traditional red ball where you can sort of buff it up and get it nice and shiny – you can’t really do that with this ball.

“Maybe the conditions here are a bit different – when we go to Melbourne or the Gabba the ball might hold up a bit better and we can get something out of it, but obviously on a Manuka pitch set up for one-day cricket, it’s going to be a lot drier.

“So it’s probably not the best (way to) judge at this stage.”

The use of the pink ball continues a seven-year planning process for the manufacturer, Kookaburra, and managing director Brett Elliott said earlier this year that the new ball was “closer to the red ball than the white ball is”.

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“I don’t think any Test ball has gone through the level of testing and development that the pink ball has, (or) the number of trials and feedback,” Elliott said.

“I think there is probably more data on the development of this ball than there is on any ball before it was entered into the first-class arena.

“We go back to the development of the white ball and its introduction to the game and it was very sudden – it went through nowhere near the level of rigorous testing and trialling and scrutiny that the pink ball has gone through.

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“It is as close to the red ball as we could make it; it’s closer to the red ball than the white ball is, (and) they’ve been playing with the white ball for decades now.

“I think from a perspective of change, it’s very, very subtle. Obviously different, (and) difference in cricket and cricket balls always create some scepticism, as to whether the ball will do what it normally does for them, but I think the key factor for both teams will be how they treat the ball.”

Siddle, a self-confessed “traditionalist”, said he was still unsure of the day-night, pink-ball Test match concept, and was concerned that it could alter the fabric of the contest.

“I’ve always loved Test cricket for what it is, and how it’s played,” he added.

“I just feel there’s too much change from the original – you’re in your whites, with a red ball, and you’re playing throughout the day.

“That’s how it’s always been and that’s why it’s been so good. So I guess it’s hard to say at this stage – I’ve got a Shield game next week with the day-night round with the pink ball, so all states get an opportunity before that first Test coming up to have another crack at it. I think after I’ve played a full four-day game where you get a good feel for it (as) the match pans out, that’s probably going to be the best time to judge properly.

“But you like to be able to toss the coin, pick what you do, and normally you bat first, but you might only want to bat for 60 overs, then declare in the evening and have a crack when the ball’s hooping around.

“So to have a factor like that in the game could make it quite hard.”