India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Saturday said that ‘pink-ball’ Test cricket was still evolving and teams were still getting to grips with the ball that was tough to handle for a spinner due to the extra gloss on it. He also said that batting can get tough against the pink ball if it gives a little help to bowlers.
The 34-year-old player, who became only the fourth Indian bowler to get to 400 Test wickets during the third Test here, said that the ball wasn’t rotating at the seam as much as the red ball would.
“When you try to put too much revs (revolutions), it wasn’t rotating as much at the seam as I thought the red ball was,” he told the media on Saturday.
No wonder then that Axar Patel returned as the most successful bowler, after only hitting the surface and making the ball to dart.
“The chance of it catching the glossy surface was far greater. If at all it caught the seam, it was spinning quite big and not responding the way the red ball might. Whatever was happening was happening really quick off the surface,” he added.
Ashwin said he was sceptical about how the pink ball would behave even while bowling at the nets.
“Even before I started the game, I was a little sceptical in the nets. The balance of the ball was a lot different to the red ball. If we played a red-ball game on the same surface, the pace of the game would have been a touch slower,” he said.
Ashwin said the pink ball can tilt the balance in favour of bowlers if the wicket is helpful to bowlers since even microseconds can make a difference.
“If it’s going to skid on even a fraction quicker – that’s the difference between hitting the inside edge and hitting the pad. Sometimes the batsman can be caught with the bat behind the pad because the ball skidded faster than what you’ve been used to with the red ball. To make an adjustment within a span of five-six days is not so easy. The more we play, the more players will get better,” said the Tamil Nadu bowler.
There have been only 16 pink ball Test matches in the world and many of those have finished fairly early. There have been some abysmal batting performances, like in the last pink-ball Tests India and England played before the one here.
India were 36 all out against Australia in Adelaide in December and England were all out for 58 in Auckland in early 2018.
“If there’s a little bit stacked in favour of the bowlers, this is what might happen. When there is a little bit of advantage to the bowlers, where it swings more or seams more, the margin of error for the batter is little. It happened even at the Eden Gardens against Bangladesh [day-night Test, November 2019]. You might say these are one-off occasions [in normal Test cricket], but these are a regular affair in pink-ball Tests,” he said.
Ashwin added that players would get used to it with time.
“The pink ball has added a new dimension to the game, so it’s about adapting. You play more and get used to it, the players are going to adapt better,” he said.
“The same thing happened with one-dayers. We were used to playing with red ball and then shifted to the white ball. Initially, the white-ball was doing a lot. Now it does nothing. That’s how the pink-ball Test will also evolve. People will learn how it works. Anything new is going to have a lot of challenges.”
The Tamil Nadu offie, however, emphasised the fact that the current sample size is too small to pass a judgement on pink ball cricket. He did, however, say that the ball bounces a lot more than the red ball as was seen in Adelaide and Ahmedabad.