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The pink ball mystery: More swing, more shine and more pronounced seam

The pink ball is different from the red cherry and as the sun sets, the ball swings more and batting gets difficult under the lights.

Aratrick Mondal Aratrick Mondal
New Delhi Updated on: November 20, 2019 15:35 IST
Pink Ball
Image Source : BCCI

The pink ball mystery: More swing, more shine and more pronounced seam

"Pink it was love at first sight, 

I yell pink when I turn out the light" 
                                       - Aerosmith, 1997. 

Well, pink indeed has become the new obsession of subcontinental cricket fans with India and Bangladesh all set to make their debut appearance in Day-Night Test cricket. November 22 is the date and the legendary Eden Gardens is the venue for the historic moment for both the cricketing nations. But more than history and the significance behind cricket embracing this new format, fans and analysts are more intrigued about the pink ball.

From the 11 Day-Night Tests that have been played so far, the conclusions have been ineffective. Of the five played in Australia, the pacers managed more wickets and the batters struggled under the lights with the ball showing more lateral movement. However, in the two matches played in Dubai, leg-spinner Yasir Shah picked 14 wickets in four innings. 

Moreover, the Eden Gardens Test on Thursday will see the SG making its own debut with the pink ball. Never has the Meerut-based Sansperils Greenlands (SG) delivered the pink variety for a first-class match in India. The one that was used in the 2016 edition of Duleep Trophy tournament was the Kookaburra pink and it failed to survive on Indian conditions. The bowlers had criticised it heavily and things fell back to the default format.

However, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly entrusted SG with the responsibility and they delivered around 72 balls before the two-game Test series against Bangladesh at home.

But the concept of using a pink ball is almost two decades old.

At the turn of the century, pink balls were developed for day-night first-class matches. Why the colour pink? It was only the visibility factor. The red ball is barely seen in the dark, the white withers out quickly. Hence the colour pink. Then came the discussion of the seam. The idea of white seam used in red was used in the making of the pink balls. But batsmen began complaining of lack of visibility of the seam. The green was tried out then before black attained permanent status.

The Making...

In a bid to unravel the mystery behind these pink balls, India TV visited the SG factory in Meerut to know about the making. Well, the difference between a red and the pink is only minimal. Besides just the colour, the ball also has an extra bit of shine owing to the extra lacquer used on the surface to make its shine last longer. In fact, for a red ball, which remains shiny until the first hour of the game, for the pink ball, it can last for at least a session. 

For a red ball, a dyed leather is used, but in the case of the pink ball, "we process and pigment the leather hence the fluro pink colour of the leather," explained Saurabh Agarwal, Product Manager of SG. The process thereafter is same as the red until a second layer of pink pigment is added before the final stitching. The extra layer gives it a darker shade and hence the visibility factor is retained.

While SG will also make their debut with the pink ball on Thursday, Paras Anand, the Marketing Director, revealed that they had started working on the concept three years back. "When the pink ball (kookaburra) was first used in India in Duleep Trophy in 2016, that is the time we started working on the technology of how to make the ball pink and ensure that it lasts through the 80 overs," he said. 

Besides shine and reverse swing and which variety of bowlers will aid more from these pink balls, the dew factor in Kolkata has been among the big talking points. "Dew will make the ball slippery. But the way SG pink have been processed and coated, and with the seam being more pronounced and possessing the ability to stay till 70-80- overs, compared to the ones used over the last few years, the bowlers will still be able to grip the ball," said Anand.

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