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Why is the pink ball being used in Test cricket during India v England?

A pink ball is being used during the India v England third Test cricket match and we're here to round up why they've switched from the traditional red ball

Pink ball Test cricket
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Published: Wednesday, 24th February 2021 at 2:44 pm

Test cricket is all about traditions – from donning the standard whites to scheduled tea breaks.


Long standing traditions aren't easily broken. For example, it took both England and Australia until The Ashes in July 2019 to stick names and numbers on the back of Test cricket shirts. Even then, the purists weren't best pleased.

Channel 4 coverage has opened up England's latest Test exploits against India to the widest audience since the last free-to-air coverage in 2005, and fans tuning in this week will have noticed a change of the ball colour for the third Test.

Captain Joe Root and Co. have been grappling with a pink ball for the day-night match this week, and we've rounded up everything you need to know about why it's being used during India v England.

Why is the pink ball being used in Test cricket?

The pink ball comes out for day-night matches for the simple reason that the ball is easier to spot under the lights.

With play beginning in the early afternoon in India, the pink doesn't have much effect during daylight hours, but once the sun sets and the floodlights flicker into life, the pink is far more striking.

Batsmen are the big benefactors from using the pink ball, with the classic red ball proving far tougher to follow at high speeds under the lights.

What is the difference between the pink ball and red ball?

Very little. An extra coat of lacquer is applied to the ball to ensure the pink finish isn't immediately scrubbed off, as opposed to wax used on the red balls.

Black thread is used on the slightly more pronounced pink ball seam, as opposed to white on the red balls, but performance differences are negligible.

The core of the ball is the same, the weight and the method of production is no different, so don't expect a pink ball to have a radical impact on the outcome of a match,

When was the pink ball first used in cricket?

The pink ball was first used in an international match in 2009 as the England Women's team faced Australia in an ODI.

It was first used in a day-night Test match in 2015 during a clash between Australia and New Zealand.

India v England is just the 16th day-night Test match to take place, but expect plenty more in the years to come, meaning there has been minimal use of the pink ball in Test cricket.

Check out our full India v England guide to watch live on TV and online.


If you’re looking for something else to watch check out our TV Guide.


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