In The Pink

County cricket’s maiden pink ball adventure got underway on Monday, with a mixture of excitement and curiosity spreading across the land.

Ok, perhaps that is a little bit of an over statement. But many were eager to see how the pink ball would perform compared to its red (and even white) counterparts whilst the prospect of County Championship cricket under lights was equally curious to many fans.

It’s hard to determine whether the experiment has worked after just one day; heck, it’s probably unfair to judge it based on one game – especially given the heavy rain much of England has seen throughout Tuesday, and is expected to see through the rest of the week, but Monday’s play has at least started the conversation in earnest…

The Pink Ball

As noted, the (potential) behaviour of the pink ball was perhaps the biggest talking point heading in to this round of Championship games.

Would it swing? Would it seam? How well would it stand up to as many as 80 overs worth of action?

Well, there was movement, and with it plenty of wickets – but was it down to the ball? The conditions? Poor batting? A bit of everything?

Given the efforts we’ve already seen this season and the range of performances from across the nine Championship games, at this stage it is hard to feel the pink ball is giving either side an undue amount of assistance at a given stage of a game.

Some teams collapsed, others excelled. The same as every week really.

As for how well the pink ball would hold up to 80 overs worth of use:

The lack of swing after the shine had gone did not go unnoticed however, with Worcestershire promoting both Joe Leach and John Hastings up the order in an attempt to bludgeon their way through the potentially tricky opening overs – a move Worcestershire supremo Steve Rhodes said “served its purpose”.

Perhaps this will become a more established tactical move in the future if teams do feel that the pink ball can be ‘worn’ quicker than the red ball – but then, that kind of tactical thinking should be welcome; playing to the conditions is important after all.

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The Conditions

Not unlike the pink ball itself, it feels too early to tell whether conditions really played a significant part in teams performances.

Some teams, such as Kent and Durham, struggled early on whilst others, Surrey for example, fared rather better batting first.

Even those sides batting second enjoyed differing fortunes – with Derbyshire 65/4 overnight following Northants Ben Duckett dominated 261, while Essex sit happily on 106 without loss after bowling out Middlesex for 246.

It’s an aspect of thegame which no doubt will remain a topic of discussion whilst day-night games continue to hold their novelty value, but one could just as easily make a case that the later than usual start was as much a factor for professional athletes so often stuck in their routines as the wicket or light levels were.

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The Crowds

Did the opportunity to ‘call in’ after work lead to bigger crowds? The response seems mixed.

Some suggested as many people left as came in late in the day, others saw an uptick in attendance.

In short, a mixed bag on day one.

The weather – something clearly beyond everyone’s control – has to be seen as a factor, at least at this stage, as the UK now settles back in to its normal routine of pleasant day time temperatures and cool (or even cold) evenings, rather than the scorching temperatures we saw recently.

Inevitably cooler evenings will put some people off, whilst others will adapt and ‘pack’ appropriately if they are to attend future day-night games – much like they would if they attended an early season game where there is as much chance of snow as there is sunshine.

If these games become regular fixtures, people will adapt.

More concerning perhaps are reports of seemingly muddled pricing – with entry apparently remaining the same regardless of which session you turned up for at some grounds – and lightweight promotion of the games.

As the first matches of their kind, perhaps counties were reluctant to advertise the games too heavily in case they were a bust, but there seems to be room for improvement in this regard.

It is a first step however, with lessons undoubtedly being learnt with every ball and break in play.

Whether people view it as a simple experiment or an opportunity for England players to gain some experience ahead of future day-night Tests (with everyone else pulled along for the ride), it would be nice if this particularly experiment was given proper time to breath and grow – whether that means one or two weeks every year dedicated to the ‘format’ or a spread of games across a season – to see if it really can work and whether it can help improve County crickets standing within the game.

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on June 27, 2017, in County Championship, County Cricket, Domestic Cricket, England and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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