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Near perfect day and ball for Di Venuto

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Michael Di Venuto

Michael Di Venuto, who hit the pink ball for 131, said: "It was pretty easy to pick the ball up today, especially at the start when it was really good"

Durham batsman Michael Di Venuto spent nearly three and a half hours facing Kookaburra's latest pink ball and then predicted it would need to be tweaked before being ready for Test cricket.

Di Venuto and fellow opener Kyle Coetzer scored centuries on day one of the champion county's traditional season-opening fixture against MCC, an occasion which is being used as a high-profile trial for the pink ball under floodlights.

MCC and the ICC, not to mention a host of national cricket boards facing dwindling attendances, hope the combination will hasten the era of day/night Tests.

Di Venuto, whose 131 set Durham on the way to a commanding score of 329 for three at stumps, believes that could be a possibility, but only if the visibility of the seam improves.

"It was pretty easy to pick the ball up today, especially at the start when it was really good," said the veteran Australian, who was out before night fell at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

"My only concern with the pink ball is the seam. The seam uses a green stitching which is pretty hard to see and if it was darker it would be pretty good.

"No disrespect to the two spinners I faced here, but with the really top-class international spinners, if you can't pick up the revolutions on the ball and which way the seam is going it's going to be pretty hard work.

"Sometimes you need a little help if you can't read it out of the hand. Someone like Muttiah Muralitharan, who can turn it both ways with a similar action, would be pretty hard to face with these current pink balls."

Asked whether he could envisage Test teams competing under similar playing conditions in the near future, Di Venuto added: "There's no reason why it can't work as long as the players go in with an open mind.

"Whatever colour ball you use at certain stages it will be harder to see and even the red ball is hard to see in some games.

"Whenever there's something different, like a pink ball, people are going to have complaints - it's the nature of the game - but we're using a pink ball so just get out and get on with it."

Scott Newman & Steve Kirby

Scott Newman, left, refused to blame the ball for his near spill. “It was just a straightforward fumble,” he admitted

MCC captain Alex Gidman was happy with the performance of the ball, insisting it had no effect on his side’s struggles in the field.

Gidman himself bowled two spells and received no negative feedback from any of his team-mates.

“We’ve no complaints whatsoever with regard to the ball,” said the Gloucestershire all-rounder.

“It performed very well actually, in what was probably the harshest test it could have.

“It was pretty fierce for the ball because the wicket was quite abrasive but the shape was fine and the colour was fine for the fielders.

“It didn’t do a lot after the first 10 overs but that was probably to be expected and I don’t think any ball would have done a huge amount out there.

“In day/night cricket with a white ball you can sometimes struggle to pick it up but I honestly felt it was better than the white ball.”

Scott Newman almost spilled a chance off Durham skipper Will Smith, but Gidman also absolved the ball of any blame in that incident.

“It was just a straightforward fumble. He said he was going to walk straight off the pitch if he’d have dropped it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Durham chief executive David Harker believes day/night matches could boost LV= County Championship attendances.

“In principle I’d love to see us play day/night county cricket, because it would give an opportunity for more people to attend,” he said.

“I’m not saying it’s going to transform the fortunes of the game but it’s all about making cricket accessible because it isn’t accessible in so many ways.

“I don’t think you’re going to get 10,000 or 15,000 people turning up, but if there are other factors involved, like the quality of the cricket and the quality of the players involved, it would help.

“I think the England stars would be the thing that makes a difference.

“We do get some decent summers evenings but we can’t predict where they’re going to be but if there are top-quality players there in a competition that is properly promoted and sold, people will talk about it.”

MCC v Durham, Day 1

David Harker believes day/night matches could boost LV= County Championship attendances

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