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Cook opposes pink-ball Ashes Tests

Cricket

Alastair Cook has echoed the sentiments of Australia skipper Steve Smith in calling for the 2017/18 Ashes series to remain a red-ball contest.

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Speaking ahead of the third Test against Sri Lanka, which gets underway on Thursday, the England captain expressed reservations about the behaviour of the pink ball and like Smith feels the Ashes doesn’t need any extra hype to boost interest.

“A lot of the games have really good attendances, so I don’t think that’s a series where you need to do it at this precise moment in time.” Cook said at Lord’s on Wednesday.

“I don’t mean any disrespect to the guys who make it … but it doesn’t seem to behave the same way as the red ball does now.

“The quality of the ball is vital for day-night Test cricket.”

Just hours after Cricket Australia trumpeted confirmation of a second day-night Test for 2016-17 against South Africa, Smith stridently warned against changing the make-up of an Ashes series.

“My personal preference probably would be (no day-night Tests against England in 2017-18), yeah,” Smith said in Guyana following defeat by the Proteas in the Tri Nations one-day tournament.

“I think it (the Ashes) works pretty well with the red ball.

“Playing against England, we always get the viewers and the crowds out, so I don’t think there is any issue there.

“There’s a bit to be talked about there but it’s still a little while away … we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

The skipper is not alone in thinking Australia’s quest to reclaim the urn needs no extra hype.

But CA is enamoured with the pink ball, having been buoyed by the TV ratings and crowds in last year’s first ever day-night Test against New Zealand in Adelaide.

Skipper AB de Villiers had been one of many South African players to express concerns about the experimental fixture.

“I haven’t spoken to him about it yet since we previously heard they weren’t overly keen,” Smith said.

“Obviously, they’ve changed their tune.”

CA has scheduled a pair of pink-ball tour games to help the Proteas prepare, while Australia’s Test players will feature in a day-night Sheffield Shield round.

“We were never against this exciting concept,” de Villiers said in a statement.

“But only wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity of competing in conditions that will be new and foreign to us.

“Two warm-up matches will hopefully give us an idea of what to expect.

“To be part of this novel concept will no doubt be a landmark moment in all of our careers.”

CA has already locked Pakistan in for a day-night Test in December at the Gabba.

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland called for players to remain open-minded to the prospect of a day-night Ashes Test in the 2017-18 series.

Sutherland said he respected the concerns of Smith and Cook, but reiterated that the pink-ball Ashes Test would be a “natural progression.”

He says day-night Test matches are going to get bigger audiences at the game and on television.

AAP

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