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Pink Cricket Ball Discriminates Against Colour Blind Fans Says Campaign Group

August 18, 2017

The governing body of English cricket has been accused of discriminating against colour blind people after introducing a pink ball for the first day-night Test match on Thursday.

Colour Blind Awareness has written to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) demanding it review the use of the ball which it says is very difficult to spot for people with the condition.

In a strongly worded letter seen by The Telegraph, Kathryn Albany-Ward, the founder of the organisation, warned that the ECB could be even failing colour blind cricketers under equality employment legislation because the visual impairment is seen as disability.

“In the UK there are approximately three million people with colour blindness,” the letter says, adding that that equates to possibly one colour blind cricketer in each team, 1,125 spectators at this week’s England vs West Indies Test at Edgbaston, and thousands watching the match on television around the world.

“So, it would be extremely difficult to argue that it is reasonable to use a pink ball when so many people are potentially adversely affected,” it continues. “This is an issue that urgently needs to be investigated in more detail, including adequate and detailed testing of the ball in different light conditions both by players and spectators with normal colour vision and those with different types and severities of colour blindness.”

The letter concludes: “I would like to know what consideration was given to the use of a pink ball. ​More importantly, I would ask you to review the use of the ball to ensure that steps are taken to ensure that colour blind people, whether players or fans, can also enjoy the sport. 

 

“I would expect broadcasters and sponsors may wish to seek reassurance from you that fans are not turning away from the game due to an inability to follow the ball as this could have a negative effect upon their receipts.

“Colour blind people watching the match had contacted her to say that they were struggling to see the ball.

Recently, Gary Ballance, the left-handed Yorkshire county batsman, said his colour blindness has meant he has struggled to see the pink ball in trials, although he recently said he found it easier to see after a modification.

Nearly three years ago, Chris Rogers, the Australian Test opener, was forced to withdraw from a day-night match when they were testing out the pink ball in Australia because he has the condition.

All of the England players were given eyesight tests to ensure the pink ball would not be a problem for them.

One in 12 men and one in 200 women are colour blind. Professor Andrew Stockman, honorary consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital and professor at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said: “Pink is not the best colour choice for colour deficients. If the pink ball is of the same brightness as the green or brown grass or a grey background, people with red-green colour deficiencies will have much more difficulty in discriminating it than people with colour vision.”

Cricket fan, Dave Dunbar, who is colour blind, said he struggled to see the ball when watching the match on television.

“It was not easy to see at all,” Mr Dunbar, 51, from Worcestershire, said. “When it was on the field I had to really focus. Even then it was not easy to pick out.

“In the air it was very difficult to see. I often had to rely on the direction the fielders were running towards to try to spot the ball. At the moment, the ball is new and quite shiny, which helps. But, when the shine has worn off during the Test it could be much worse. When the floodlights come on at sunset I suspect it will be even harder to see.”

A number of people also complained that the pink ball was difficult for normal sighted people to spot when it appeared against a pink background used on an advertising hoarding for life insurance.

Mrs Albany-Ward said: “There have been a lot of colour blind people contacting us complaining that they can’t see the pink ball. There simply isn’t contrast between the colour of the ball and the background.”

An ECB spokesman said: “Staging this match fits within one of our core aims to continue to broaden the opportunities for people to watch and enjoy cricket. We have looked to test the ball thoroughly beforehand. As with any new activity we will seek feedback after the match from players, coaches, officials and fans on their experiences after the game.”

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