By Martyn Herman
MCC fixture at Zayed stadium to witness pink ball being used for first time ever.
The MCC, guardian of cricket's treasured traditions, gaze into the future when England's season curtain-raiser takes place this month not on the lush acres of Lord's but under lights in Abu Dhabi using a pink ball.
Marylebone Cricket Club, founded in 1787 and for so long a world of old school ties and conservatism, is now aiming to lead the way as a force for change in cricket under innovative Australian chief executive Keith Bradshaw.
The MCC's match against county champions Durham at the Zayed stadium on March 29 will be the first time a pink ball has been used in a first class fixture and Bradshaw is hoping it will pave the way for the opening day-night test.
"It's the way the game is heading and we are embracing that change," Bradshaw told Reuters at Lord's as plans to turn the north London ground into the temporary venue for the 2012 Olympics archery events were revealed.
"The pink ball match in Abu Dhabi underlines that. We've done extensive tests with it and we feel we have now got something that is credible and worthy of a trial.
"We tried to do it at the end of last season but couldn't for various reasons so we thought why not take the opportunity to play the MCC v Champions match under lights in Abu Dhabi," said Bradshaw.
"We know the ball will get a far more rigorous test because the conditions will be far harsher in Abu Dhabi than they would be here in April on a lush green pitch.
"For us it's a demonstration of us wanting to embrace change and make a contribution to the future of the game."
Bradshaw, whose background in the spit and sawdust world of Australian club cricket contrasts sharply with the oak-panelled rooms and china tea pots of the sport's spiritual home, originally wanted England's May test this year against Bangladesh at Lord's to be the first day-nighter.
"We were very keen to have a day-night test here at Lord's this year but we couldn't because the trials were not completed in time," he said.
One-day matches, both in daylight and under lights, generally use white balls but they would be useless if players played in whites, as against the often garish colour schemes adopted by clubs and international sides.
"The good thing about the pink ball is you can then use traditional white clothing," Bradshaw said, adding that orange balls had also undergone tests although they were "swinging round corners".
"The pink ball is behaving as we would expect," he said.
Far from being a gimmick, the success of pink balls could be key to helping the five-day test format survive in the glitz and glamour of the Twenty20 form of the game while preserving its age-old appeal to the traditionalists, Bradshaw said.
"Attendances are falling in test cricket around the world and one of the things we can do to remedy that is day-night matches but you can't do that unless you have a suitable ball," he said. "We're not saying every test match will be day-night but we have to be open to change for the good." (Reuters)
please can we link the pink colour to breast cancer awareness we as Health authority would love the idea