Proteas head coach Ottis Gibson was optimistic about about how the pink ball might behave as his side heads into the first ever day-night cricket test on home soil next week.
Breaking new ground with the Boxing Day match, the Proteas will square up against neighbours Zimbabwe in the historic match at St George’s Park.
Gibson, whose only competitive pink ball test came in a series between England and West Indies in Birmingham where he was the home team’s bowling coach, said the team were looking forward to the spectacle.
He took solace in the fact that his team had played a pink ball test against Australia in Adelaide in November last year.
“We are all looking forward to it, obviously it’s a new thing for the country, so there is a lot of excitement around that,” Gibson said.
Kookaburra Sport communications head Shannon Gill said six day-night matches have been played using the Kookaburra pink ball to date. Gill said there was not much difference between the composition and visual aspects of the different match balls.
“Structurally they are the same, visually there are only two small differences, there is a pink dye used to give the ball its shine, and it contains a black seam,” he said.
Weighing in at 156 grams, Gill said the challenge was to produce a ball that was visible enough to see at night, and durable enough to last for 80 overs.
Asked if the pink ball was still able to swing and more importantly, reverse swing once it got older, Gill said there were initial talks of an inability to swing the ball from the bowling fraternity.
“When we first introduced the pink ball, there was talk that bowlers could not reverse the pink ball, which was a reasonable complaint. The thing is, bowlers are smart people, and they have worked out how to do that sort of things.
“Since that first test in Australia, we have had a lot of bowlers in Australia being able to make it reverse swing,” Gill said.
He said the ultimate test for any pink ball would be the conditions its used in which determines how the ball degrades during play.
Gibson said the introudtion [of day-night test matches] was exciting with many players around the world warming to the new format.
“Players around the world are open to the concept of day-night test cricket and hopefully the weather will be different to what it was in Birmingham,” referring to the pink ball test against West Indies earlier this year.
Star Proteas batsman AB de Villiers had an opportunity to face the pink ball during a training session under lights at St George’s Park on Friday night.
“I batted at around 7.30pm or 8pm. It was on one of the pitches next to the main pitch we are going to play on. I hope it’s not that spicy on Tuesday,” he smiled.
“It was a great test, the pink ball was moving around. Vernon [Philander] is obviously the master of moving the ball around and Kagiso Rabada was moving it around shaping it in and out. It was a great way to prepare. I don’t think it can get much harder than that,” added De Villiers, who will be making his return to test cricket next week after an absence of almost two years.