England’s cricketers admit they will be taking a leap in the dark when the country hosts its first day-night test, with a pink ball, against the West Indies this week.
Few England players have any experience with the ball, which will be the centre of attention when the first test gets under way at 1300 GMT at Edgbaston on Thursday.
England seamer Stuart Broad said it would be a “step into the unknown” and that bowlers will have to “figure out what’s going on”.
Earlier this week, he said he had only ever bowled a single delivery with the new ball, and England will have had just one session with the ball under lights before play starts.
Broad’s new-ball partner Jimmy Anderson may be slightly better prepared, having taken two wickets for Lancashire with the pink ball in a one-off round of County Championship matches in a trial of its use earlier this season.
The experiment received a mixed reception, with some players reporting that the ball went soft earlier than its red equivalent.
While red balls are dyed, waxed and lacquered, white and pink balls rely on paint to provide colour. The demands on pink balls, which must last 80 overs, are much greater than those on white balls, which are used for shorter forms of the game.
Manufacturers say the new balls should be easier to pick up in all conditions and England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow said on Tuesday that fielding sides may benefit. “With a red ball it is not perfect, to be quite honest,” he said.
“If you are stood at second slip, third slip, gully, point, fine leg, deep backward square, you are actually picking a maroon ball up out of a multi-coloured background, which is the crowd,” he told Sky Sports on Tuesday.
“You never know, coming out of a dark background, it might actually be easier to see a luminous pink ball than it would a gloomy red one. I am sure it will be a learning curve, for the batters and the bowlers ”
The Edgbaston game will be cricket’s fifth day-night test, but the first played with a Dukes ball, the make traditionally used in England.
The other four tests – three in Australia and one in Dubai – all used a Kookaburra, and the rival manufacturers fought their own battle this week over the merits of their respective balls.
“This (day-night test) is an experiment and people will expect miracles, but I think you have to give it a bit of time,” Dukes owner Dilip Jadojia told the Independent news site. “I think the colour is perfect, but if there are lessons to be learnt then they’ll be learnt.”