It was in this English county that Sildenafil Citrate, the blue pills better known as Viagra, was born. The latest is a pink cricket ball that is being experimented in a county championship division II game between Kent and Glamorgan.
After red and white balls, the pink ones are being used in a day-night first class fixture for the first time. The response will be the first step in the ICC's move to find the right coloured ball for introducing day-night Tests.
As with anything new, the reaction was mixed at the St Lawrence Ground in Canterbury. "We felt a bit like an experimental mouse in a school's biology laboratory," said one of the players. He wasn't impressed that authorities had turned the game into a trial. "Yeah, we got to know about the use of the pink ball at the last minute, which is difficult. After all, it is still an official game, with the careers of the guys involved but then we also understand the relevance of this experiment," said Geraint Jones, Kent captain.
Some regulars in the members' area of the ground pointed out that seven batsmen were bowled in Kent's first innings on Monday. Is it because the batsmen couldn't sight the pink ball? Jones wasn't sure. "The new pink ball was visible but as the match went on, it became pale and looked a little white. It also got soft and its seam opened as well. I think a brighter pink will be better."
The manufacturers of the balls for the England cricket board themselves are not impressed with the choice of pink. "It is orange or bright yellow," said Dilip Jajodia, Managing Director, British Cricket Balls Limited, the company that makes the Duke balls for Tests in England. "If you look at life boats, life guards, traffic wardens, policemen, they never wear pink. It is either bright orange, yellow or green. Green is out of the question as it will be lost on the outfield. Either orange or yellow should be tried. Channel 9 once ran a test in Australia and rated orange as the top colour, yellow second and then pink. It factored in not only the players' comfort but also that of spectators."
Not by design
Pink was not picked by design. It was for the Pink Day, marking the Jane McGrath Day in memory of Glenn McGrath's wife, that Kookaburra introduced the pink ball. Soon a cricketing anecdote caught on and hence the fixation with the colour.
"We are watching the experiment closely but can't predict the results. At the moment it is pink but tomorrow it could be any other colour. A lot will depend on the feedbacks we get," said Stan Bennett, a member of the MCC Standing Committee.
Jones said: "I won't mind two different coloured cricket balls, one pink and the other orange, in friendly day-night games. But whatever be the colour, it has to be the brighter version."
(the writer WORKS FOR ESPN's SPORSCENTER)