The pink ball being used in day-night first-class matches makes for “boring” cricket, according to Victorian fast bowler John Hastings.
Hastings took two for 36 from 25 overs to be the pick of the Bushrangers’ bowler on the first day of their Sheffield Shield season opener against Queensland at the MCG, but said that the pink ball — used ahead of next month’s inaugural day-night Test match — made the bowlers’ work hard.
He confirmed that Victorian captain Matthew Wade had requested that the umpires replace the ball as it lost colour and hardness before a new ball was taken after 80 overs.
But despite Wade’s approach, brought about in part by the fact that some Bushrangers fieldsmen were struggling to see the fading pink ball, umpires Phil Gillespie and Geoff Joshua refused an early switch.
A 164-run partnership between Bulls Scott Henry (141) and Marnus Labuschagne (67) was only ended as Victoria took the new ball at the mandated 80-over mark, with both batsmen departing soon after the change. Queensland ended the day at 4/298.
Despite believing that the pink ball had improved since its use last season, Hastings remained unconvinced. “The ball doesn’t move off the straight, it’s tough work. All you’ve got to do is set straight fields. It’s a quite boring brand of cricket when you do have that pink ball,” he said after the day’s play.
“It’s getting better. It’s certainly better than the first few pink-ball games that we’ve played. But I still think there’s a fair bit of work to do. The main issue for me is the hardness of the ball. It just doesn’t stack up to the red ball. I think maybe if we changed the ball at around 50, 55 overs and get a new one, or a semi-new one, it might be a better contest towards the end.
“The discolouration was a little bit of a factor tonight, but not more so than it has been in the past.”
Hastings explained what had transpired when Wade approached the umpires inside the final 10 overs before the new ball was to become available. “We were, we definitely were [asking for a change]. We thought there was just a bit of discolouration there. We wouldn’t have minded if it was the same for both teams.
“As it turned out we just bowled spinners and [medium-pacer] Marcus Stoinis bowled a few towards the end there.
“I don’t know whether they’ve had a directive not to change the ball or whether they should change the ball, I don’t know, but it would have been handy for us if they had have.
“Some of the fielders square of the wicket couldn’t really see it that well, so we were just saying, ‘can we get it changed?'”
But Hastings added that he had not personally suffered any problems in trying to see the ball in the field and that the ball did briefly reverse swing
“It wasn’t consistent, but it did actually swing a little bit reverse.”
Ex-NSW opener Henry, who starred on debut for his new state did not have any issues with the ball.
“I thought it was fine the whole time,” he said.
Henry said, however, that batting at night against a new ball at night was always a challenge.
“Under lights, with a new ball, whether it’s white or pink it’s always difficult to adjust. Obviously coming from the day time conditions to night time, it’s always going to be difficult.”