YORKSHIRE are confident that colour-blind captain Gary Ballance will be able to see the pink ball as they gear up towards their first day/night County Championship match later this month.
Yorkshire take on Surrey in the historic fixture at Headingley from June 26-29, and director of cricket Martyn Moxon is optimistic that Ballance would have no issues seeing the new pink ball used for day/night games.
“We had a bit of a go with it recently and, hopefully, it will be all right,” he said.
“I think Gary finds it easier with the black seam as opposed to the white seam that was previously used on the pink balls, so that kind of helps a bit.
“With him, it’s basically the contrast; the pink blends into the green and the white a bit more than the red and white, which makes it harder to see.
“But we’re expecting him to be okay.”
Ballance admitted earlier this year that he has been consulting an optician in Leeds and testing lenses to try to overcome his problems.
The issue first arose several years ago, with the player admitting that he struggles to differentiate between the colour of the ball and that of the pitch.
With more pink-ball Tests being played around the world, and with England set to host their first in August against West Indies at Edgbaston, Ballance is naturally keen to find a solution.
The left-hander has not had too much difficulty seeing the red ball lately; he is the second-highest run-scorer in Division One with 610 at an average of 101.
His game now is in excellent order. He’s getting into the ball on the front foot better, and his weight transference is much better. That’s the big difference.Gary Ballance
Such has been Ballance’s form, Yorkshire are bracing themselves for his potential recall for the series against South Africa starting next month.
Asked whether Ballance should be selected, Moxon gave his own view recently by answering with his own question: “Who is playing better?”
Tim Bresnan, the county’s vice-captain, would take over if Ballance is chosen, while the second team batsmen have been challenged to show that they could step up.
Whether picked by England or not, Moxon believes that Ballance deserves credit for bouncing back after losing his international place last autumn.
“Gary’s form has been outstanding and he’s done it through sheer hard work,” said Moxon.
“He cleared his head and then had a full winter working on his game, and he’s getting his rewards.
“The talent has always been there; Gary was averaging 50-odd until recently in Test cricket, so he’s hardly a numpty.
“It’s just through hard work that he’s got himself back into form and playing the way that he’s capable of playing.”
Moxon believes Ballance was unlucky to lose his Test place after a difficult series in Bangladesh in which he managed 24 runs in four innings.
England decided to make a change rather than stick with him for the subsequent series in India.
“It was difficult for Gary because the pitches they played on in Bangladesh were really tough,” said Moxon.
“You could argue that he was jettisoned a bit early because nobody that came in really did any better than him, but that’s history now and the point is that we know how good Gary is.
“He showed in the initial stages of his Test career that he was capable of scoring runs at that level, and sometimes a little break from it all to clear your head and refresh your mind and your body is all it needs.
“His game now is in excellent order. He’s getting into the ball on the front foot better, and his weight transference is much better.
“That’s the big difference.”
Although Ballance has made the necessary improvements, Moxon and first-team coach Andrew Gale also deserve credit for the player’s revival.
Not only have they worked closely with him in practice, but their decision to hand him the captaincy has undoubtedly brought the best out of him and created a new lease of life.
“I think he’s done really well as captain,” said Moxon. “He’s just been himself.
“Gary is quite quiet as a character. He doesn’t beat his chest. But, as I’ve said from the outset, he has a quiet authority and a lot of respect in the dressing room.
“What he says he makes count; he doesn’t just use words for the sake of it.
“It’s short and to the point, and he goes about it in that quiet, authoritative manner.
“On the field, I think he’s been outstanding tactically. We’ve got clear plans of how we want to play, and he’s carried those plans out well and manoeuvred his bowlers intelligently.
“If he does get picked (by England), it will leave us with a big hole to fill in more ways than one.”