Sport Cricket Starc and Aussies lead pink-ball evolution

Starc and Aussies lead pink-ball evolution

Kane Williamson of NZ dodges a pink ball delivery on day two of the first Test in Perth. Photo: AAP
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Mitchell Starc is a traditionalist who doesn’t want to see the pink ball overtake the red, but his and Australia’s Test record under lights suggests otherwise.

Undefeated in six day-night Tests, Australia took a massive leap towards a seventh win with five wickets under lights to leave New Zealand 5-109 in Perth on Friday.

The day-night game has evolved significantly since the pink ball was first sighted in a Test four years ago.

Once it was about whether to bat first or when to declare. Now it seems Australia have made it about ensuring you bat long into any given day and controlling your own fate.

That was clear when they batted for time during the second session on Friday, putting survival ahead of runs in their first-innings of 416 to make sure they had a new ball under lights .

“If you look at the tactically from red-ball to pink-ball, it’s very different,” Starc said.

“Certainly we batted a bit slow during that middle session.

“But the plan was to try and get as close to the evening session with a brand-new ball as we could.”

Australia have played three more day-night Tests than any other team, and it shows.

The main criticism of day-night Tests are that they creates unfair shifts in the game.

The Aussies would no doubt argue the good teams control that timing.

“That was certainly pink-ball tactics to try and utilise the brand-new pink ball under lights,” Starc said.

“Like we saw with Tim (Southee) last night moving it around and getting some late swing.

“It’s probably justified when you take five wickets in the last session.”

Australia’s bowlers benefit too from their experience under lights.

Starc has now taken 37 wickets in seven Tests, nine more than any other player. His average with the pink ball is 20.05.

He’s claimed it suits him because it behaves somewhat like the white ball, but he’s also learned what changes to make to make to his length it in hand.

“It might change tactically depending on the hardness of the ball,” Starc said.

“We still find the going soft on the harder wickets at a certain point, perhaps a little bit sooner than the red-ball.

“You might bowl a fraction fuller or attack a little more in the evening sessions when it’s swinging a bit more.

“Your lengths perhaps change at certain times of the day. But perhaps no different to how you might change your lengths with the red-ball.

“I think red-ball or pink-ball, you just have to adapt to the conditions out there, whether it’s day or evening, whether it’s new or old or it’s soft or hard.”

Not that he wants to see every Test be played with pink.

“Don’t overdo it,” he said.

“It’s great for cricket but I’m still a traditionalist at heart, so don’t take away too many from the red-ball game.”