13 Oct. 2016
With the first pink ball test in Asia being played between Pakistan and West Indies its time I did a quick write up on the in-play difference between the red and the pink ball. To keep the reading time minimal and the content relevant I will break down this article in three parts. 1 – Why the colour pink? 2 – The difference in ball manufacture and finally the difference in in-play behaviour between the Pink and the red Kookaburra ball.
Why the colour pink?
As ICC, the International Cricket Council wants to popularise test cricket it was decided to trial day and night tests, why night? Well to capture audience after they have been and back from their 9 to 5 grind and ready to hit the telly, that includes me too by the way. It had been determined by trail and error, research in other words that Pink is the best colour in contrast to white or off white player clothing i.e. Pink doesn't clash with the player on field kit. The pink ball also has been found to stay most visible in both day and flood lit conditions, for up to 80 overs of play after which new ball availability is an option.
Pink ball, Red ball manufacture differences.
First of all the ball predominantly used in international cricket specifically home series played in Pakistan are the Kookaburras. So we will not not be looking at the Duke characteristics which is predominantly used in England.
Since we want to explore how Kookaburra cherry is different from the pink, lets get the facts straight from the horse's mouth.
According to Kookaburra “The Pink Kookaburra Turf Ball is made using exactly the same method as the red ball, however a very fine film of extra pink colour is added to the surface of the ball prior to the standard clear lacquer finishing for all coloured balls. The pink turf ball, based on feedback from players during trails, uses a green stitching like a while turf ball instead of white stitching used on the red ball.”
Pink in play
Now the question arises that since the Kookaburra Pink differs from the Red ball by only having an additional fine film of pink would this then impact the wear and tear of the ball? This is an important question, why? Because the ability of a ball's surface to deteriorate has an impact on its aerodynamics properties hence the quality of swing. The fine film (layer) of Pink colour sprayed on the leather covers the natural grain of the leather, thus makes it more difficult to shine as the natural fats of the leather aren't available right after the top coat wears off as would be the case with the red kookaburra. This means the ball will swing less and later in the game so the bowler will need to get the seam position spot on in order to induce the aerodynamics required to swing the ball in the absence or lack of help from the ball's leather itself. Essentially maintaining the shine on the ball will be harder work. As in my previous article on the science of swing the shiny and rough side disparity is important to induce swing.
Conclusion folks is the Pink swings less and later in the game because it's hard to keep the shine.