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Cautious optimism over pink ball trial

The experimental pink ball match between Kent and Glamorgan in Canterbury has been greeted with cautious optimism by players involved.

The first-class fixture is the first to have been played in day-night conditions with a pink ball in the UK, after successful experiments overseas.

Glamorgan won the match by 8 wickets with Stewart Walters' first innings 147 setting up the victory.

The fixture was organised by the ECB who approached both teams with a proposal to re-jig the match - which had no bearing on the promotion race.

Despite the last minute adjustment, Glamorgan opening batsman Gareth Rees, who made 54 in the first-innings, said he had enjoyed the new format.

“I’ve never played any pink ball floodlit cricket in the past; it’s definitely something new, and obviously very different to the normal Championship format,” Rees said.

“As with anything new I think it’s just going to take some getting used to, but I’m certainly enjoying the experience.”

Even contest
MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson has led the MCC World Cricket Committee’s research into the possibility of playing day-night Test cricket with a pink ball.

Prior to the match he expressed his concerns at playing in English conditions - something MCC does not envisage at Test level.

Rees, 26, admitted the twilight period could pose a problem for future matches.

He added: “The twilight period in England is longer than in other parts of the world, and this is the most difficult part of the day, but I think if you play through it - as with batting in overcast conditions during a morning session - things gradually get easier.”

Rees’ teammate Dean Cosker was experiencing pink ball cricket for the second time, after playing for MCC against Durham in the Champion County match in Abu Dhabi in 2010.

The left-arm spinner agreed that the twilight period would have to be managed carefully, but feels that it could form a part of the English game in the future.

“I would be happy to see the pink ball brought into first class cricket in some way, shape or form in the future,” said the 33-year-old.

“The format is possibly more suitable overseas (climatically), but I can’t see why it can’t work in England during the main part of the summer.”

Despite concerns over the sighting of the ball under the floodlights in the final session of the day, Glamorgan batsmen Stuart Walters and Mark Wallace added 72 unbeaten runs in 21 overs to close day two.

Cosker added: “There haven’t been any major complaints about sighting the ball, and as Wallace and Walters showed, batting under the lights is fine.

“It hasn’t been an uneven or biased contest between bat and ball.”

MCC has used Kookaburra balls in its pink ball experiments in Abu Dhabi but a ball developed by Tiflex - the official ball manufacturers for second division county championship cricket - was employed for the first innings in Canterbury.

Former England wicket-keeper Geraint Jones, who played 34 Tests for England between 2004 and 2006, was critical of the ball’s performance:

“When I was batting I was glad that there wasn’t any one who was seriously quick playing – especially during the twilight period,” he said.

“The ball got scuffed-up quite quickly, which did make it a bit tricky to sight at times – essentially it lost its brightness.

“The depth perception of the ball when I was keeping was another issue – a few balls hit the gloves slightly quicker than expected, but visually it wasn’t too bad.

“Overall I think it’s simply a case of ensuring that the ball maintains its brightness for as long as possible.”

The experienced 34-year-old, captaining Kent in the absence of Rob Key, reiterated familiar concerns with playing the format in England.

“Moving forwards you would need to be careful when and where you play the day-night format,” Jones added.

MCC & pink balls
MCC has led the research into the possibility of playing day-night Test cricket in the future, with the pink ball currently the most viable option.

Stephenson recently revealed that he is in talks with New Zealand Cricket about the possibility of the first day-night Test taking place in January 2012.

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