Seeing the pink ball isn’t an issue, it’s what comes next, South Australian stalwart Michael Klinger says.
Klinger says experimental pink balls soften quickly and feel like tennis balls when struck, but he doesn’t blame them for SA’s batting struggles against NSW in the Sheffield Shield match in Adelaide.
The Redbacks were 8-265 at stumps on Monday’s opening day, rescued by a 75-run partnership for the eighth wicket by Callum Ferguson (79 not out) and Adam Zampa (48).
NSW spinner Steve O’Keefe claimed 4-75 with paceman Josh Hazlewood taking two wickets and fellow quicks Doug Bollinger and Trent Copeland one apiece.
The bulk of SA’s runs came early and then late from the second new ball – they mustered just 52 runs from 31 overs when the ball softened in the middle session.
Veteran opener Klinger, who made 37, reckons when soft, the pink balls make scoring difficult.
“Once you’re out there, you see a ball coming at you and, as a batter, you just try and make good decisions,” Klinger said.
“The biggest difference is that once it gets softer, it doesn’t come off the bat as well.
“A lot of shots off the middle of the bat, it feels like a tennis ball … it’s a bit softer and guys are struggling to hit the ball through the field.”
But Klinger said the pink ball can’t excuse SA for slumping to 7-165 before Ferguson and Zampa’s saving stand.
O’Keefe captured three quick-fire wickets as SA lost 3-5 in a mid-order collapse.
The crafty left-armer bowled Klinger and, next ball, had the Shield’s second-highest run-scorer Tom Cooper caught behind for a golden duck – though the ball appeared to flick Cooper’s pad, not bat.
O’Keefe then removed former Victorian allrounder Andrew McDonald, making his Shield debut for SA, for 15 as the home side sagged to 4-80.
Wickets steadily fell before Ferguson was joined by Zampa, who cracked his highest first-class score as the pair accelerated against the second new ball.
Zampa smacked five fours and a six in his 60-ball innings while Ferguson, once touted as a Test prospect, took his Shield average this season beyond 76 with a classy unbeaten knock.
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