Australia v New Zealand Tests
Pink ball could be Test silver bullet: Waugh
Former skipper says players need to consider the wider benefits of Test cricket innovations
26 October 2015, 12:30 PM AEST
Former Test captain Steve Waugh says cricketers need to look at the bigger picture when it comes to day-night Test cricket, believing the format could be the saving grace of the longer form of the game worldwide.
Players including Adam Voges, Peter Siddle and Tom Latham expressed concerns over the deterioration of the pink ball in last Friday's Prime Minister’s XI versus New Zealand clash on an abrasive pitch at Canberra’s Manuka Oval.
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But Waugh believes the potential for day-night scheduling to transform Test cricket, particularly in countries where crowds and interest are flagging, is too great to ignore.
"I think it's a great initiative for cricket," Waugh told Triple M Melbourne's The Hot Breakfast.
"Test cricket is withering away in a lot of countries. Australia and England are the only two places where people come to watch Tests, so we have to stimulate excitement and get people watching again.
"Once we play one (day-night) Test people will go, 'What were we worried about?'
"People want to see a little bit of change. Sometimes it's hard for players to understand that, but sometimes you've got to see the bigger picture for the good of Test cricket.
"It might not be a perfect ball, it might discolour a bit and it might be tough for batsmen for some portion of the match, but it's been that way for one-day cricket since it started.
"There's always been that twilight area after tea where the lights are not quite perfect, but you just get on with it."
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Waugh has been a long-time supporter of day-night Tests, saying the idea had been discussed during his eight years on the Marylebone Cricket Club's World Cricket Committee.
"That was one of the things we were pushing for probably 10 years ago," he said.
"I think it's needed. Not so much in Australia, where we have good crowds, but in a lot of other countries where the Test match crowds are basically non-existent, you need to ignite the interest and the passion and I think day-night cricket will do that.
"I remember when World Series cricket started, I was a young kid and I was that excited to go and see a day-night game with a white ball.
"We need that sort of thing happening in Tests."
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After Friday's match, Voges said that the pink balls used at Manuka Oval "got pretty chewed" once the exterior lacquer coating was worn off, while Siddle said he was concerned the day-night concept could alter the fabric of Test cricket.
"There wasn’t much pink left on it at the end of the game," Voges said. "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 probably more green than pink at the end."
But Cricket Australia's head of cricket operations Sean Cary said he was not reading too much into the condition of the balls after Friday night's match.
"We’re really confident with the work that’s been done on the pink ball over many years," Cary said. "We’ve had two successive seasons of Sheffield Shield cricket where pink balls have been trialled and there will be another round starting in just a few days.
"We’ve worked very closely with the Australian Cricketers’ Association and Kookaburra during its development to get it ready and fit for purpose.
"That included making significant improvements in the last 18 months around greater seam visibility, colour, shape and hardness.
"We’re not reading too much into the condition of the ball during the Prime Minister’s XI match in Canberra; we know the Manuka wicket is very abrasive and has a similar impact on a white ball in limited-overs cricket."
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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".
"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."