Cricket: India's pink-ball declaration hurtles out of the blue

By David Leggat

New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford (L) discusses the condition of the pink ball with bowler Neil Wagner (R). Photo / Getty Images
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford (L) discusses the condition of the pink ball with bowler Neil Wagner (R). Photo / Getty Images

It was the pink ball announcement no one saw coming.

But to simply assume India's test series against New Zealand in October will include a day-night test is premature.

NZ Cricket officials were caught short by the comment from the Indian board secretary, Anurag Thakur, that a pink Kookaburra will be used in one of the three tests this year.

Thakur's language was interesting.

"We have decided that we will play one day-night test match with [a] pink ball against New Zealand later this year," he said. Nothing tentative, or give and take, about that.

No pink ball cricket has been played in India and the first-class Duleep Trophy will be used to trial it. No venue has been finalised.

India, after all, are used to getting their way in cricket matters. However NZC is cautious for now.

"We're at the start of a conversation," NZC communications manager Richard Boock said yesterday. "We don't want to dispel the idea of it, there's a lot of good things about it. But to say it's a done deal is a wee bit over-egging it."

Until now, pink ball test talk had revolved around Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, with a bit of Pakistan thrown in. The Pakistanis have agreed to play a day-night test in Brisbane in December, while the South Africans are resisting Australia's persuasive powers to play under lights in Adelaide in what could be the decider of their high-profile three-match series in November.

NZ have been in the conversation because they played in the inaugural, and so far only, day-night test last December in Adelaide, have been openly keen to explore hosting a pink ball test and are seen as being in the "pro" pink ball camp.

But India is a new name in the discussion. They will see New Zealand as good day-night material because they've had experience of the concept and they probably expect NZC to ultimately accede to the BCCI request. But there are hurdles to clear first.

Finding a suitable venue will be interesting. Abrasive surfaces abound in India and that's bad news for pink balls. Evening dew in some parts of the country could make life interesting for batsmen. Mohali, New Delhi or Mumbai should be in the frame.

A day-night test in India would be bad news for New Zealand viewers, starting about 9.30pm and running through the early hours. But that's no concern for the Indians.

Lighting is not uniformly top quality in India either.

But it seems India can feel the winds of change coming in the test landscape. Their home test cricket is poorly attended, unless a big nation are the opposition.

Their bank balance may dwarf other countries', but they're no different in recognising that acreage of empty seating isn't a good look.

Meanwhile, four White Ferns players have won spots in England's inaugural women's T20 Super League to run this year.

New Zealand captain Suzie Bates - recently named the world's best woman cricketer by Wisden - and teammate Sara McGlashan have been picked for the Southern Vipers; assertive allrounder Sophie Devine will play for the Loughborough Lightning where classy Australian player Elysse Perry will be the star signing; and wicketkeeper-batsman Rachel Priest is with the Western Storm.

Squads in the six teams comprise three or four established England players, three overseas players, two or three England academy players and six or seven players chosen through a county talent ID process. The league starts on July 30.

- India's US$41.97 million ($60.6 million) claim on the West Indies for abandoning the 2014 tour of India midway has been waived. The visitors, led by Dwayne Bravo, boycotted part of the tour, leaving India furious.

The Windies will now tour India in 2017 to finish that series while India will tour the West Indies this year.

- NZ Herald

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