by Rajan Thambehalli
Cricket in its traditional form was and is played primarily with red leather balls. Cricket balls through the ages were red because the ball-manufacturers in the 18th century England preferred
'red' dyes. This tradition carried on for generations until the time cricket got immersed in the world of commercialisation. Though, there has been one-day internationals with coloured clothing,
night games and T20's - cricket at its core is played with red balls as it happens to be one of the few surviving cricketing traditions.
The thought of coloured clothing disturbed this 'traditional' aspect of the sport. 'Red' ball, no longer fitted in with coloured clothing. The colour of the ball was changed to 'white', which
meant - coloured clothing and night games were a reality and deemed practical for growth of the sport. In recent years, the governing body of cricket along with many cricket associations have
pushed for day-night test matches (it has always been a day affair) with white clothing and thereby the ball required a new colour, something more conducive for the on-field personnel, spectators
and to the broadcasters. Red, not suitable under lights and white ball with white clothing would be a disastrous combination - 'pink' became the unanimous colour.
The word 'pink' has a long history. In the 14th century, anything that meant "to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern" was called 'to pink'. Of course, the decorations were of the flower 'Dianthus' which in Greek meant 'flower of Zeus', as named by Theophrastus, a Greek botanist. The colour of these flowers gave rise to the word 'pink' which we commonly use.
In the new millennium, an international cricket series included five-day affair 'tests' and coloured clothing 'one-day internationals'. With the advent of T20 cricket, the game shrunk - and the three hour cricket became an instant hit. Various leagues most notably, the Indian Premier League created ripples and cricket unleashed its newest and the bravest commercial avatar. This fast food formula made money and thus rocked the wooden chairs of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) - the governing body, the custodian who has the ultimate say on the laws of the game!
Since that landmark MCC's decision in 2009, when the committee waved a green flag to experiment with 'pink' balls, there has been several matches that were played (on a trial basis) with these
new coloured balls. A women's international match between England and Australia as a part of Pink Sunday programme to support Breast Cancer Campaign happened to one of the first instances in
international cricket to experiment with the pink balls.
In the last six years, there has been a first-class match between Durham and MCC played under lights at Abu Dhabi, a first-class match in the Caribbean and recently Cricket Australia has been at the forefront in having the combination of 'pink balls', 'white clothing' and 'day-night' first-class cricket work. It even created trials with the broadcaster last year and there is very likely, later this year, cricket would witness another revolution - the first day-night test match.
For Cricket Switzerland and its cricket playing fraternity, the decision to switch to pink balls starting from 2015 season was simple and logical. Led by the President and ably supported by clubs
and other committee members, the idea of pink balls and its experimentation was met with little resistance.
Switzerland doesn’t have the luxury or benefit of cricket only grounds & stadiums with sight-screens, and the background can often be white concrete sports buildings or apartment buildings, red brick housing, dark red & brown mountains, trees & forests (green in the summer, brown/red in the Spring and particularly in the Autumn).
The above factors can make the traditional red ball difficult to see as a batsman, even more difficult as a fielder. The white alternative is better, but still not ideal as the facilities at
public school and sports authorities are often white or grey. So the white ball gets lost in these too. Additionally the white ball tends to be of inferior quality compared to the red and thereby
quickly loses its shine and colour on the rough artificial surfaces we have at most grounds, turning grey!
But mountains, buildings, stadiums, forests are not pink! Once we got over the array of jokes about using pink balls, the trials (for over a year) showed there are technical advantages of using the pink ball. They swing much like the red ball, and the one used (Duke's) retains its shine longer than the white and importantly its shape. Batsman see it better, spectators also find it easier to follow and the aging umpires also find it easier to judge.
Cricket Switzerland believes in maintaining the traditional aspects of the sport (playing in whites); however, for practical purposes - like in this case turning to 'pink balls', it is simply a
case of discovering a 'winning formula'.
This article originally appeared on SportsImitatesLife.com. Read the original