As Eng vs W Indies starts, a new manufacturer of the pink cricket ball comes into play. Grappling with the new ball isn’t all that turns British standards on their head. The format also begs the question: when is it appropriate to have a cuppa?
England preparing for another summer Test match is a familiar sight. But there is something different about this training session – a pink ball flying around at Birmingham's Edgbaston as England prepares for their day-night Test debut with a new tool to master. England face the West Indies on Thursday in the first of a three-match series.
The day-night format has been experimented with around the world, with Adelaide hosting the inaugural Test back in 2015. But this is the first time it will occur in cricket's birthplace, and for England's players, it is a step into the unknown.
While the tests so far have used the Kookaburra pink ball, this week it will be England's manufacturer of choice – Dukes – whose pink ball will be on show for the first time at this level.
Based in a North London factory, the company prides itself on the quality of its handmade products. And the challenge of producing the pink ball has taken a great deal of research and development.
Dilip Jadeja, who owns the company, accepts that his latest product will be under the spotlight, but he's not worried about the scrutiny.
The pink Dukes’ ball goes through almost all of the same procedures as the traditional red ball, but the company has had to contend with some early criticism from county players who have used it. Jadeja says it is still too early to access their product fully.
TRT World's Oliver Regan reports on the test of Dukes.
Pitch and tea
Now England must confront the challenges that come with using the pink ball – as it is more visible under lights while the white ball familiar from one-day cricket clashes with the players' traditional white Test match clothing – as well as the difficulties of batting in an awkward twilight period.
As happened in Australia, that could even lead to some unusual declarations and England fast bowler Stuart Broad, whose pink ball experience extends to one promotional delivery said Monday: "It's stepping into the unknown completely. I've bowled one ball with the pink ball – I got it relatively straight.
I just don't know what to expect. We are just going to have to be so adaptable on the day and figure out what's going on.
Like some have pointed out, a day-night format also forces a break from traditions – which England tends holds as highly as the actual sport itself.
As the Guardian noted, even if lunch is at 4pm and tea is at dinner, the breaks will not be renamed. The argument: to avoid confusion.
Thursday’s match will begin in the afternoon at 2pm.