Monday, 29 March 2010

Is pink the colour for Test cricket?

Traditionalists should look away now. The movements of the clocks and the spring into summer heralds the start of the English cricket season and the annual curtain raiser between the country champions and the MMC.

This clash conjures up images of players clad in white, the polite clapping of the sparse crowd, the sound of (red) leather on willow and the gloomy skies of early April looming over head. Durham, who the cricket betting makes favourites to clock up three Championships in a row, experienced these conditions last year.

But once more cricket's traditional image is being torn to shreds as the season opener is moved 3,000 miles away to Abu Dhabi. Instead of Lord's, it's the Sheikh Zayed Stadium where the game will be played and instead of red balls, there will be pink ones.

But far from this being a gimmick the trial of a pink ball in Abu Dhabi could have far reaching implications for the game.

It is hoped the pink ball will be easier to see under floodlights than the red ball and will not scuff as easily as the white version.

If the trial in Abu Dhabi works then the day night experiment could be extended to the Lord's test with Bangladesh in the summer.

The aim of this, of course, it to tempt people back to Test cricket by ensuring they are able to attend after work.

If the pink ball is introduced then the prospect of day-night matches would open up the door to Test cricket for new fans and tempt a few back to the game.

However, this experiment is not really being conducted with England in mind. Test cricket is still relatively well attended here, unlike the south Asian subcontinent and Australia where crowds are falling. Plus the English weather can be bad enough during the day let alone at night when it can get cold even in high summer. A day-night game would be more welcome in Australia for example, as it would offer welcome relief from the 40 degree heat during the day.

Either way it is good that the game's administrators are looking to innovate. One of the cricket's biggest weaknesses has been the failure to change with the times. I'm all for tradition, it is what gives the game colour and character, but we also have to think of the future.

If a pink ball and day-night test matches will keep the fans coming, and provide the same level of competition, then I'm all for it.

Meanwhile, in other sports news, England remain third favourites in the World Cup 2010 betting odds despite a recent spate of injuries.

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