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There are few certainties before the first Test against West Indies on Thursday; the Dukes ball is pink and has barely been tried out, and never at this Authentic Tony Sanchez Womens Jersey level; the floodlights will be switched on for the final session (and before if required, but sunset on day one is not due until around 8.30pm); there will be quibbling – lunch at 4pm? – over the names of sessions and breaks. The rest, as Stuart Broad observed on Monday, is a mystery.
There is a small sample of evidence to educate guesses. Four Tests (all played in totally different climates: three in Australia, one in Dubai), a few one-off games (such as the Champion County game in Abu Dhabi over the past eight years), and nine County Championship matches in late June. The last are the most instructive, in that the Dukes ball was used, and actually happened in this country, even if the proximity to the solstice made the night side of the day-night bargain pretty slim.
The Championship round could generously be described as a qualified failure, and it may well never happen again. The integrity of the competition remained, because it threw up no outrageous outcomes but no one – players, officials or fans – appeared to enjoy it. While a few folk may have come into grounds late, at least as many had already left (they had buses to catch, frozen fingers to warm and, unlike a white-ball day-nighter which offers an outcome at the end, no reward for staying to the Authentic Yunel Escobar Womens Jersey close of each day).
The atmosphere at Chelmsford as Essex sealed a remarkable win over Middlesex was superb but the crowd was no bigger than usual, just rowdier and better oiled. It was a ruinously rotten week of weather but so many are, it being summer in Britain (this week’s forecast in the Midlands does not look too flash either).
Seeing the ball was easier at some grounds (Chelmsford) than others (Headingley) and was very dependent on where one was sitting. Indeed Essex’s Simon Harmer warns that there will be dropped catches: from his vantage point at second slip the ball was very difficult to pick up against the backdrop of a busy stand, especially at twilight.
It was a varied, frantic round of undulating cricket with extreme patterns of play and players learning on the job – some had not had a single net against the pink ball. Alastair Cook and Nick Browne put on 373, Essex’s highest opening partnership ever, yet Derbyshire ended the second day using a pair of nightwatchmen as opening batsmen; Warwickshire’s Andrew Umeed scored one of the slowest centuries (331 balls, 429 minutes) in Championship history, yet Ben Duckett had one from 89 balls in the first session of Northamptonshire’s match.Plenty was happening, yet there were many dull moments too. As Liam Dawson said, having ground out a painstaking 53 that bored him as much as it did the crowd at the Ageas Bowl (which, he also noted, remained paltry): “If you are going to keep on using those balls, then you are going to get some pretty boring cricket.” The main complaint was that the ball swung prodigiously when new Authentic Jay Bruce Womens Jersey (good), but softened quickly (bad), meaning the movement went (bad) and never returned (bad).
Cause for complaint was shared by batsmen and bowlers. Jason Roy, who scored 87 from 91 balls for Surrey, said: “It felt terrible off the bat and made a horrible sound so you didn’t know when you’d middled it”. Players say it feels light in the hand and rather like athe child’s soft cricket ball, the “incrediball”; all the same, run rates were consistent with the rest of the season, and Dukes has utter confidence in its ball, which is made in the same way as the red one, but has a different polish and a dyed black seam. The Dukes owner, Dilip Jadojia, says players are being precious. They are certainly creatures of habit.
This is a big week for Dukes, given the marked improvement in Kookaburra’s pink ball since its first Test. Indeed Kookaburra has sent over its head of communications to keep an eye on proceedings and is bullish: Australian players who have now used both balls reported back that Kookaburra has little to worry about. Perhaps there is just an element of parochialism there.In the Tests seen elsewhere, the setting sun brought a witching hour where the ball “glows like a homing beacon” and moves plenty. Says one opener: “At that stage everything feels in the bowler’s favour. There’s moisture and dew about, the ball is hooping and skidding, everything just happens quicker. As a batsman new to the crease you feel under siege.”Duckett notes that his experience summed things up: a rapid century in the day time, then Authentic Jose Reyes Womens Jersey a confused second-innings duck when starting under lights.
The sense is that this period, as well as the ball’s pronounced seam, makes pink-ball cricket a quick bowler’s game but, really, it is a new-ball bowler’s game. Miss out when it is fresh and a period of toil is likely to arrive. Spinners, then, might just play a greater role than anticipated: Simon Harmer’s 14 wickets spun Essex to victory, and Hamidullah Qadri, Derbyshire’s 16-year-old off-spinning debutant, took five. Harmer says he was helped by greater bounce, which took the sweep out of the equation.South Africa picked the wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi in Adelaide (where Nathan Lyon also enjoyed success) because the black seam can be difficult to pick, while West Indies’ Devendra Bishoo has a pink-ball-Test eight-wicket haul. Maybe this would not have been such a bad Test to have given a debut to Mason Crane, who took four wickets in this year’s Champion County match after all.
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