Decision to play D/N Test during upcoming season hinges on how the ball performs, players’ feedback during Duleep Trophy
Kolkata, hold your horses! The most famed cricket ground in the country might still get to host the pink-ball Test against New Zealand but there are many ifs and buts before that. No one wants to squander home advantage and risk losing a Test. Not Sourav Ganguly, the state association president. Not Anurag Thakur, the BCCI president. Indian cricket board is in mood to experiment but only if the players feel comfortable and its proven that a Test match could be played under lights with a pink ball in Indian conditions. The decision will be taken if and only if Duleep Trophy, to be played in September with pink ball in lights, proves the viability of such an experiment.
There’s a collective belief among a section of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) officials that Eden Gardens will host India’s first-ever pink ball Test in October-November. This follows the BCCI tour programme and fixtures committee’s decision on Thursday to pick Kolkata as one of the venues – Indore and Kanpur are the other two – for the three-Test home series against the Kiwis. The CAB has been pitching for glory ever since Anurag Thakur said a couple of months back that the BCCI intended to host a day/night Test against New Zealand later this year. But amid the euphoria, the state association president Sourav Ganguly sounded a note of caution.
“It’s too early. All depends on the Duleep Trophy. It will give us an idea if at all pink ball cricket is a viable option in Indian conditions. The BCCI will take it from there,” the former India captain told The Indian Express. Ganguly also heads the BCCI technical committee that has proposed the Duleep Trophy makeover – in pink ball, under lights. The tournament will be played in September, marking the beginning of Indian domestic season that will have 918 matches.
The list of potential problems with a pink Test are numerous and Ganguly’s technical knowledge of the game prevents him from taking things for granted. “Several issues need to be assessed – whether the pink ball can hold up for a substantial period, how much we need to change pitch conditions, dew factor and if the players are feeling comfortable with the changes.” he told this paper.
Feedback from players
BCCI president Thakur said that nothing was set in stone yet with regard to the pink plan in India.
“There is no final decision on the day night Tests match so far. The only experiment so far BCCI is seeking is to play Duleep Trophy matches with the pink ball. BCCI will take final call only after considering the various issues that is playing conditions, visibility of the ball. Feedback from the players will be taken after the game. After taking consideration all these things, the BCCI will then decide whether to play day-night Tests in the future,” Thakur told Indian Express. Thakur has already said that he wants all Test regulars and hopefuls to be available for the Duleep Trophy to have required exposure to pink ball cricket.
If the pink ball experiment in the Duleep Trophy turns out to be a success and the BCCI eventually decides to play a day/night Test, in all likelihood that it would be Eden Gardens, being the most storied cricket venue in the country, will play host to it. The other two Tests against New Zealand are scheduled at Indore and Kanpur.
“Don’t forget Indore and Kanpur, too, have lights. And with the BCCI AGM approaching, hectic lobbying can’t be ruled out,” said a BCCI insider.
Eden Gardens, however, will have a head start, after completing all arrangements to host the country’s first-ever pink ball multiday tournament under lights – CAB Super League final – later this month.
“We have decided to hold a local game and introduce pink ball cricket for the first time in India. The idea to host such a game is to ensure that we are adequately prepared to host a day and night Test match,” CAB secretary Avishek Dalmiya said.
If things go to plan, it would be another historic moment for the hallowed Eden Gardens and a great moment of pride for one of India’s most celebrated cities.