Get­ting testy about pink balls

CityPress - - Sport - Stu­art Longbottom @Long­bot­tom_69 is an arm­chair cricket critic. Un­like Henry, he can’t think of a bet­ter rea­son to take four days off work

the mod­ern-day at­ten­tion span, which they feel has been eroded even fur­ther by the 20-over for­mat, does not ac­com­mo­date a marathon sport­ing event, lu­di­crous sug­ges­tions have been flung around clum­sily, much like Im­ran Tahir try­ing to get to grips with that thing called field­ing.

In a de­bate among cricket’s most vo­cal for­mer play­ers-turned­com­men­ta­tors at Lord’s last week, shortly af­ter Eng­land’s pur­ple patch was some­what defe­cated on by Aus­tralia in the sec­ond Ashes test, leg­endary for­mer Aussie spin­ner Shane Warne called for a trial of four-day, day-night tests, which of course would be played – in all se­ri­ous­ness – with pink balls.

“Garbage!” cried Sir Ian Botham. “As soon as the sun goes down, the con­di­tions be­come hor­rific.”

I get a sense Botham was not re­ally con­cerned about con­di­tions as much as he was about the prospect of play­ing with those pink balls.

For­mer Eng­land cap­tain Michael Ather­ton said even he wouldn’t bother go­ing to watch a test where “700 plays 600”, re­fer­ring to the dead tracks pre­pared for matches in some coun­tries.

It re­ally makes one won­der when those seem­ingly so en­trenched in the tra­di­tion of test cricket rub­bish as­pects of the for­mat they hold in such high es­teem.

But it was Michael Hold­ing, the deadly pace­man from the West Indies bet­ter known as “Whis­per­ing Death” in his hey­day, who cut through the din.

Com­ment­ing on the im­por­tance of pre­par­ing pitches ap­pro­pri­ately for test matches and on the role pitch con­di­tions play in test matches, he pro­posed: “Why don’t we just do away with the toss and let the vis­it­ing team de­cide what to do?”

The rest of the panel nod­ded sagely in agree­ment, know­ing full well how the out­come of the toss rip­ples through the qual­ity of matches when pitches are pre­pared in favour of the home side.

If test cricket is to bounce back, as it were, Hold­ing also sug­gested there needed to be some­thing at stake for par­tic­i­pat­ing teams other than na­tional pride and mea­gre bonuses.

He pro­posed a league with two di­vi­sions, where teams play one another home and away, and, at the end of the sea­son, the bot­tom two are rel­e­gated from the higher di­vi­sion and the top two are pro­moted from the lower one.

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