Australia v Pakistan: Nathan Lyon urges restraint with pink ball Test revolution

Lighting up: Nathan Lyon impressed with the pink ball in Adelaide but wants Test cricket’s traditions maintained. Photo: Cricket AustraliaNathan Lyon has urged against overkill with day-night Test cricket, saying Australia’s players supported the concept but wanted to keep the format “as traditional as possible” and have the pink ball used only occasionally.
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The Australians are preparing for the second consecutive Test under lights, against Pakistan at the Gabba starting on Thursday, and an official announcement of the first day-night Ashes Test is imminent, with Cricket Australia expected to this week confirm next summer’s Test schedule against England.

Players are no longer staunchly opposed to the pink ball as they once were. A survey taken by the Australian Cricketers’ Association after this season’s first day-night Sheffield Shield round found that 57 per cent of players believed the quality of the ball had improved in its latest, black-seam incarnation. According to the poll 68 per cent of players felt the day-night conditions affected the outcome of matches.

Despite being more open to the innovation, after successive pink ball Tests in Adelaide, players do not want to see it infiltrate Test cricket.

“I don’t think we need to overkill it,” Lyon said on Monday. “It’s been a great success down in Adelaide but I think it’s quite important we leave Test cricket still a traditional game … [that] we don’t come in and overkill the pink ball.

“I know the game is moving forward but I’m a big believer in trying to keep Test match cricket as traditional as possible with the odd pink ball game. I’d hate to see a five Test match Ashes series next year, all pink ball.”

That won’t happen – it’s likely there will be only the one during the Ashes, in Adelaide, after England agreed to a day-night contest – but Cricket Australia will be pushing for at least two in home summers to follow, as they have scheduled this season.

Ambitious targets have been set for crowd numbers at the Gabba, which have been dismal in non-Ashes years lately, a problem that led the Brisbane Test to be switched from its usual place at the front of the home summer to mid-December. But while ticket sales are encouraging the attendance this week will not challenge the total attendance of 125,993 over four days for the third Test against South Africa in Adelaide last month.

A total crowd in the region of 70,000, up on the 53,572 who witnessed the first Test between Australia and New Zealand last summer, is considered a more realistic expectation.

Razzle-dazzle: Matthew Wade stumps Kagiso Rabada in Adelaide. Photo: Getty Images

Lyon could not be blamed for not wanting to change something that’s not broken at the Gabba. He has a better average at the ground than any other Australian Test venue and his strike rate in Brisbane is superior to even Shane Warne.

“I do like the concept,” the off-spinner said of the pink ball. “I think the ball has improved from last year but I think there is still room for improvement there and I know Kookaburra is working hard on that.”

Meanwhile, the ACA have expressed major concern at proposals outlined by CA for a new memorandum of understanding after the first of two days of meetings between the parties in Melbourne.

CA intend to scrap the 20-year-old percentage-of-revenue pay model, which guarantees players a 24.5 to 27 per cent share of turnover, and propose to set the payment pool for players themselves.

“This will clearly be a very long negotiation and a very detailed discussion,” ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson said. “CA have shared some information regarding the positions they hold, but we are still to receive full financial information regarding CA’s submission which will underpin the negotiations.”

“We will take time to initially consider their position, but for now we are very concerned by some of the responses, and encouraged by others.”

Lyon said the players would leave it to their union to negotiate with the governing body over pay.

“The players are working with the ACA,” Lyon said. “They’re doing a fantastic job to look after us and we’re purely focused on the pink ball game here,” Lyon said. “Whatever happens will happen, it’s out of our control. We’ll leave all the higher stuff to the big fellows and we’ll just worry about playing cricket.”


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