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"It's still got a long way to go": Players wary of 'improved' pink ball

Cricket

The pink ball has improved markedly since last year’s inaugural day-night Test but Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Starc still harbour concerns about its hardness.

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Australia will host two day-night Tests this summer, facing South Africa at Adelaide Oval later this month before hosting Pakistan in Brisbane.

Cricket Australia and its English counterpart remain in negotiations about playing a day-night Test the following summer, despite skippers Steve Smith and Alastair Cook both suggesting the Ashes should remain a red-ball contest.

Starc, who played for NSW in a day-night Sheffield Shield contest at the Gabba last week, felt there was a lot to like about Kookaburra’s new edition of the pink pill.

But Australia’s spearhead added “it’s still got a long way to go”.

“It’s still losing its hardness way too early. I think after 20 overs it starts to go soft. Kookaburra are improving it a lot,” the left-armer said.

“They’ve changed the colour of the seam and put another coat of lacquer on it, which is helping the ball but I think we just want to see that ball stay hard for a lot longer than it does.

“You don’t normally see full-blooded edges not carry at the Gabba, so that was pretty disappointing.”

Khawaja, who captained Queensland in Brisbane last week, is unsure if the pink ball will ever behave like a traditional Kookaburra.

“The hardness is not the same … the way they make the red ball and the way they make the pink ball is totally different,” Khawaja said.

“There are really different tactics… it definitely swung a lot more at night. You look at our game in Brisbane there was way more wickets fell at night.

“That is not saying pink-ball cricket is not good cricket … it will definitely bring the crowds in which is really important for cricket, especially Test cricket.”

Khawaja suggested introducing day-night Tests as the sport’s fourth format could help the concept thrive.

“That way the players will start to accept it a bit more,” the left-hander said.

“Now when you mix the formats together it blurs the lines a bit. Cricket hasn’t really worked it out yet.”

-AAP

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