Difficult at dusk? Illuminating the debate on cricket ball visibility

John J. Maule, Robert Maguire, Matthew A. Timmis, Oliver Runswick, Luke Wilkins, David L. Mann, Stephen J. Dain, Jenny M. Bosten, Peter M. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Investigate the visibility of new and old red, white and pink cricket balls under lighting and background conditions experienced during a day–night cricket match. Design: We modelled the luminance contrast signals available for a typical observer for a ball against backgrounds in a professional cricket ground, at different times of day. Methods: Spectral reflectance (light reflected as a function of wavelength) was derived from laboratory measurements of new and old red, white and pink balls. We also gathered spectral measurements from backgrounds (pitch, grass, sightscreens, crowd, sky) and spectral illuminance during a day–night match (natural afternoon light, through dusk to night under floodlights) from Lord's Cricket Ground (London, UK). The luminance contrast of the ball relative to the background was calculated for each combination of ball, time of day, and background surface. Results: Old red and old pink balls may offer little or no contrast against the grass, pitch and crowd. New pink balls can also be of low contrast against the crowd at dusk, as can pink and white balls (of any age) against the sky at dusk. Conclusions: Reports of difficulties with visibility of the pink ball are supported by our data. However, our modelling also shows that difficulties with visibility may also be expected under certain circumstances for red and white balls. The variable conditions in a cricket ground and the changing colour of an ageing ball make maintaining good visibility of the ball a challenge when playing day–night matches.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJOURNAL OF SCIENCE AND MEDICINE IN SPORT
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2024

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