Ollie Robinson has called Day-night Test cricket a ‘gimmick’ and believes England’s attacking approach will do more to save the format than playing under the spotlight.
It’s no surprise that England aren’t fond of Pink Ball Tests, having lost five out of five abroad, with Robinson playing in two heavy defeats in Australia last winter.
He was the last man to be sacked in the Ashes series, a curvaceous center stump riding backwards in Hobart, an image that summed up a sad tour and a tough one for him personally.
This is England’s first time playing a day-night Test in New Zealand, authorities hope it will draw a crowd; however, the match is not sold out. Evidence so far shows supporters tend to drift away in the final session as temperatures dip, although the cyclone currently hitting the North Island should be over by the time the game kicks off on Thursday.
The pink kookaburra ball is also unpopular with players, England said they found it difficult to pick up in Hamilton this week when the lights came on. It also offers bowlers very little during the day and England will rely on crotch and short balls to create chances before hoping it does more under the lights.
“It’s a bit of a gimmick. They are trying to get an audience and change the game a bit, but given the way England are currently playing Test cricket, I don’t think that should happen,” said Robinson. “We can stick with how we go and entertain people as we are, so I’m not sure it’s really necessary. Just traditional Test Cricket… there’s nothing wrong with it to begin with. I don’t think we should be playing these pink ball games.”
Robinson expects to lose the new ball to Stuart Broad, with his prowess against left-handers – there are two at the top of the New Zealand order – probably more relevant than his seniority.
“I think she [pink balls] are different. Some are swung, some are seamed and some are harder, some are softer. The warm up game recently I got hit with a 65 over old ball and it hurt more than a brand new ball. It’s like a rock,” Robinson said. “So I think they’re just all different and it’s so hard to set yourself up and control the game because you don’t know how they’re going to react in the game. It’s just hard work.”
The sun sets around 7:30pm local time, giving the bowlers perhaps 90 minutes under the lights to exploit. Robinson has a good record with the pink ball, 16 wickets out of 21, similar to his Test average of just over 20.
“We’ve been trying a lot over the past week to get the pink ball moving and it’s proved quite challenging,” he said. “It’s not as consistent as the red ball, Dukes of Kookaburra, which kind of swings and makes you shine. This has a layer or varnish on it and it’s really hard to shine and make it swing. It’s definitely going to be a different challenge, but we’ve got the attack here and our batters are hitting it hard, which is great.”