The retiring David Warner trudges off the SCG for 34 to a standing ovation. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS
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Pink ball no solution in Khawaja’s eyes for bad light

Scott Bailey January 4, 2024

Usman Khawaja has urged officials not to tinker too much with Test cricket or introduce a pink ball to solve bad light, after half of day two was lost to weather at the SCG.

On a day meant to belong to David Warner and the opener’s Test farewell, Sydney’s weather stepped in, with play stopped with Australia 2-116 in reply to Pakistan’s first-innings total of 313.

Warner and the 30,038 fans at the SCG were left frustrated when the retiring opener was caught at slip for 34, dashing hopes of a fairytale century in his final Test.

But the crowd’s frustration was doubled when the umpires took players from the field in the middle of the afternoon for bad light, with the floodlights on and some 40 minutes before rain began.

Cover on at SCG
 Rain and poor light brought a halt to day two of the SCG Test between Australia and Pakistan. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

The situation comes in the same week that questions linger over the future of Test cricket and its viability compared with franchise T20 leagues, in which teams would have likely played through similar conditions.

Former Australian coach Justin Langer labelled the decision to remove players as “crazy” and bad for the sport, while loud boos rang out across the SCG.

But Khawaja, who has been vocal about the survival of the longest format, said there was little that could be done in the situation.

“That’s just cricket, it’s been going on for 100 years,” he said. 

“The laws haven’t changed. Light is light. It’s a red ball. It’s still very hard to see the red balls.

“Unless you can replicate the sun, I’m not really sure what (can be done).”

Khawaja noted that less time is lost to bad light now than in the past, given batters are no longer offered the option of whether to leave the field.

Calls have previously been made for a pink ball to be used in poor light, just as it is under floodlights in day-night Tests.

Another option would be to completely replace the red ball with the pink one in all matches, in turn making bad light a thing of the past.

But Khawaja is adamant that is not the answer.

“If (that happens), I’m retiring,” he quipped.

“The red ball is so distinct. I’ve played white ball, I’ve played pink ball, red ball, they all react so differently. Nothing reacts like that red ball.

“The beauty of Test cricket, and what I love about Test cricket, is it really hasn’t changed a lot in the last 100 years. 

“It’s still bat versus ball. The competition is still there. The wicket still deteriorates. The team most disciplined usually wins. It’s a long grind. 

“We’ve got T20 cricket, we’ve got one-day cricket. Yes, there’s parts of Test cricket that have changed over the years, but the basic concept of it hasn’t. 

“It sucks, but this is Test cricket unfortunately. And when it rains or when you have bad light, you just have to cop it.”

Earlier, Warner had produced one of the shorts of the morning when he square-drove Hasan Ali for four.

He survived a chance when dropped on 20, but there was no second reprieve when he was squared up and edged a ball from spinner Agha Salman that gripped and bounced.

It could prove to be the last of 12,442 deliveries Warner faces in Test cricket, depending on how the rest of the week plays out.

 Usman Khawaja made 47 as Australia employed a cautious approach against some tight Pakistan bowling. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

Fittingly, Warner’s childhood teammate Khawaja was at the other end to witness it, as the pair put on their 13th opening stage of 50 or more.

But Khawaja fell just before play was abandoned, caught behind when he gloved a pull shot down the legside off Aamir Jamal.

That left Marnus Labuschagne (23no) and Steve Smith (6no) at the crease, before the dark overhead clouds set in.