For Lancashire’s Dane Vilas, the floodlit Specsavers County Championship match against Warwickshire will not be a completely new experience, but one he is excited about nevertheless.
The in-form South African batsman was in his country’s Test squad for last November’s day/night clash with Australia at Adelaide, the third of only four to be played in such conditions anywhere in the world. Although he did not play in the game, he came on as a substitute fielder.
Ahead of the Red Rose’s clash with the relegation-threatened Bears at Edgbaston, starting on Monday, he said: “I wouldn’t say I’m accustomed to it, but this game certainly isn’t going to be a brand new experience.
“I played a four-day game for South Africa A last year against Australia A. That was a pink ball, albeit a Kookaburra with a green seam. From what I hear, the Dukes ball is going to be quite different to the Kooka.
“I really like how the Dukes ball plays here in England, so I’m looking forward to the challenges that it’s going to bring.
“I was involved in the Australia v South Africa Test Match last November in Adelaide, although I wasn’t named in the side. I got on the field a couple of times under lights.
“Leading into that game, I had some practice and nets outdoors, and it was a great spectacle to be involved in, our first Test in those conditions.”
The pink ball floodlit concept for first-class and Test cricket has split opinion over the last seven years since Durham and the MCC used it for the first time in an English first-class fixture, the champion county match in Abu Dhabi. But 32-year-old Vilas is in the pro camp.
“As a cricketer, you always want to test your skills playing in different conditions,” he said. “Playing a four-day game under lights with a pink ball is different. It makes things exciting.
“I think it has got a place in cricket. If that’s what the people want, we have to move with the times and give them what they want.”
Lancashire and Warwickshire have both played champion county matches with the pink ball in 2012 and 2013 respectively. But they have had contrasting starts to this season.
Vilas, who is playing for Lancashire on a Kolpak registration having retired from international cricket following six Tests and one T20 appearance for the Proteas, hit a career best 244 in this week’s Championship innings win over Hampshire at Emirates Old Trafford.
He has helped the Red Rose to second place in the table with three wins from seven matches, 14 points behind leaders Essex.
Warwickshire sit bottom of Division One having lost four and drawn two of their six matches. Safe to say, it has not been the season Bears sport director Ashley Giles wanted after leaving Lancashire over the winter.
This will not be his first meeting with the Red Rose since leaving, however, having faced them in a pre-season T20 and a Royal London one-day Cup clash at Edgbaston last month, with Lancashire winning both fixtures.
Of the pink ball concept, Giles added: “It will be interesting to see how teams tackle it and what sort of tactics they use. Will some teams bat two sessions and then pull out? Our guys are are excited about it. It’s something different to look forward to.”