Pink ball Tests under lights can help cricket survive: Waqar


KARACHI: Reacting to the dreary draw to the weather-plagued second Test against England at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl, Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis feels cricket administrators must do a ‘rethink’ in the playing conditions to guarantee more play.

Talking to reporters online during post-match media conference late on Monday, ex-Pakistan skipper Waqar admitted it was possible for both teams to spend longer time on the field than being confined to their dressing-rooms in a match where just 134.3 overs of action were possible chiefly because of rain and bad light.

“It was really very, very frustrating for all concerned. The weather, for sure, was not in our hands but having said that there were moments when the Test could have moved on in terms of action [on the field]. I think it is high time that playing with the pink balls under lights is considered a viable option for the survival of cricket and use of floodlights be made mandatory when there is lack of natural sunlight.

“The interpretations governing the laws on light are now being discussed and to suggest that pink ball is the answer for it is still at an experimental phase from my perspective. There had been just one Test in England with the pink ball. The others who have played with pink balls have advocated that Test cricket can be staged and it is financially viable too because playing under lights also encourage more people to watch the match at the ground after work.

“Our team have played in several pink-ball Tests— twice in Australia and one in Dubai — but I’ve no idea actually how does the Duke-brand pink balls behave in English conditions, altho­ugh there had been one Test with these balls over here in England [the home side defeating West Indies by innings and 209 runs within three days at Edgbaston in 2017].

“So definitely in such an environment the ball would behave differently, particularly when it is overcast and a bit damp, which often is the case in England. Even in Australia we have seen when the lights are switched on, the ball would dart around much more than during daylight hours. To cap it, I think it’s a very good idea moving forward to make Test cricket more entertaining by bringing in large crowds and also improve the revenue factor,” the legendary fast bowler added.

Coming to the match, Waqar said there is frustration among the players as Pakistan head into the final Test at the same venue from Friday, being 1-0 down in the three-match series.

“Obviously, the mood is a bit despondent in our camp with the end-result in this second Test but at the same time everyone is geared up for the next match. There were plus points for Pakistan in the drawn Test despite limited action. [Mohammad] Rizwan stood out with a fine innings while batting with the tail and both Abid [Ali] and Babar [Azam] also made significant contributions.

“On the bowling front, [Mohammad] Abbas bowled pretty well as did Shaheen [Shah Afridi] to trouble the England batsmen because I felt our total of 236 was quite decent in tough conditions. And there had been more playing time, we would put England under pressure.”

When asked whether Pakistan would be effecting changes to the playing XI for the final Test, Waqar plainly said it was up to the head coach Misbah-ul-Haq to make the call.