Cricket: Pink-ball Plunket round scrapped

By David Leggat

New Zealand's domestic cricketers will not follow their test counterparts in trying the pink ball. Photo / Getty
New Zealand's domestic cricketers will not follow their test counterparts in trying the pink ball. Photo / Getty

Plans for a round of Plunket Shield matches with pink balls under lights next month have been scrapped.

And that in turn is likely to put back the prospect of a day-night test until the 2017-18 season.

New Zealand Cricket had proposed using a round of first-class matches starting on February 20 at Eden Park, Napier's McLean Park and Seddon Park in Hamilton to test the merits of using a pink ball in New Zealand conditions. Those three venues, plus Wellington's Westpac Stadium, are the only possible locations as they have lights.

However, problems with McLean Park's lighting strength has meant the idea is on the shelf, but with the intention of looking again at the proposal in the next domestic first-class season.

While Seddon Park was fine and it was expected Eden Park would also work, once a handful of points had been worked through, the strength of the lighting at McLean Park presented an issue.

There had been the idea of New Zealand's first day-night test at home being staged at one of those venues next season, most likely against South Africa at Eden Park.

However, without a full trial run, it is unlikely to go ahead.

NZC general manager of cricket Lindsay Crocker pointed out the distinction between playing white ball limited-overs cricket under lights and using a pink ball.

''The white ball only has to last 25 overs (using one ball at each end in a 50-over match) whereas a pink ball has to last 80 overs," Crocker said.

He added that there was a strong collective willingness for the pink ball experiment, but having canvassed a range of options, it was felt more work was needed to get the plan over the line.

NZC looked at switching the McLean Park game between Central Districts and Wellington, to neutral Seddon Park on a different date, or Westpac Stadium, but scheduling problems eventually scuppered those ideas.

Staging it as a day game would also mean an uneven playing field for the premier domestic competition.

NZC are due to have talks with Cricket South Africa shortly and it may be CSA are willing to press on, even without the pink ball having been trialled.

More likely, however, the target will be a test against England, who are the major incoming tour in the 2017-18 summer. There have been no talks with English officials about the idea, but that will happen this year.

- NZ Herald

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