New Zealand vs England: Ollie Robinson gives the thumbs down to pink-ball cricket | Cricket News
England are aiming to end their losing habit in day/night Tests against New Zealand this week, but seamer Ollie Robinson has given a thumbs down to “gimmicky” pink ball cricket.
The tourists arrived in the coastal city of Mount Maunganui on Sunday, greeted by heavy wind and rain brought in by Cyclone Gabrielle and against a backdrop of safety warnings from the national weather agencies.
How badly the region will be impacted is likely to be determined over the next 24 hours but, while the England management keep a close eye on the forecasts, the players are preparing for the series opener at the Bay Oval to take place as scheduled on Thursday.
Practice sessions over the next three days could be scrapped if facilities are compromised by the cyclone, meaning even less time for bowlers on both sides to get to grips with the pink Kookaburra ball.
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England defeated the West Indies at Edgbaston in their first ever day/nighter in 2015 but have been routed in their next five, all overseas, including an innings loss to the Black Caps in Auckland five years ago.
A slice of luck at the toss and getting the opposition batting during the pivotal ‘twilight’ period will be important to reversing that streak but Robinson makes no bones about the fact he would rather be playing a standard five-day match.
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“Traditional Test cricket, there’s nothing wrong with it to start with. I don’t think we need to play these pink ball games,” he said.
“It’s a bit gimmicky. They’re trying to get crowds in and change the game a little bit but the way England are playing Test cricket at the moment, I don’t think that needs to happen. We could stick to how we’re going and we’re entertaining people as we are so I’m not sure if it’s necessary really.”
The brighter pink ball has recently been touted for more widespread use, primarily as a potential solution to bad light stopping play, but as someone who uses it as the tool of his trade Robinson is underwhelmed by the current product.
“I’m not a massive fan of that ball, no. We’ve been trying to get them to swing this last week and they’re very inconsistent. They’re just not a traditional cricket ball,” he said.
“We’ve been trying a lot in the last week or so to get the pink ball moving and it’s proved pretty challenging. It’s not as consistent as the red ball, Dukes or Kookaburra, which swing for a little while and allow you to shine them.
“This has a layer of lacquer on it and it’s really hard to shine and keep it swinging. It’s so hard to set yourself up and set the game because you don’t know how they’re going to react in the game.”
Robinson’s first day/night Test, in Adelaide during last winter’s Ashes, took a turn for the unexpected when he was surprisingly invited to bowl a spell of off-spin after a selection blunder saw Jack Leach left out.
Watching the 6ft 5in pace man twirling away in his sunglasses was a symbol of England’s muddled thinking during that series, and there is no chance of a repeat in the days ahead.
“I hope not anyway,” said Robinson with a smile. “For everyone’s sake.”
Whether he opens the bowling in less certain.
Ben Stokes’ decision to have him share the new ball with James Anderson when he returned to the side last summer, nudging the vastly experienced Stuart Broad to first change duties, brought excellent results but with New Zealand relying on two left-handed openers in Tom Latham and Devon Conway there could be another change.
“They’ve got two lefties up top and Broady is really good against left-handers, so whatever role we each play at any given time we’ll be up for the challenge,” said Robinson.
“It’s not set in stone by any means. We’ll play it as it comes and we’re all ready for that.”
Robinson is one of several team members who have delayed the arrival of loved ones due to the weather conditions but if the pre-match net sessions are also affected, he is not worried about going in cold.
“We’ll be keeping tabs on it, but hopefully it won’t affect us too much,” he said.
“We are well aware it could be tricky to get out there but if we don’t train before Thursday I feel we’ve already had a good prep and we’re ready to go anyway.”
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