Former Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid feels that the player should play with an “open mind” when it comes to newly invented day-night test cricket with the pink ball.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Dravid said that there is a need for innovation in the longest format of the game in order to let the format survive and attract bigger crowds and the new conditions would be challenging for the players.
Despite more day-night matches scheduled this year, players are not enthusiastic to feature as it holds a lot of challenges. Earlier West Indies has disagreed to participate in a day-night test match but with PCB offering training sessions and warm-up games, WICB accepted the offer to play day-night test match in UAE in September this year.
“I think it’s natural to be wary when you first start, it’s stepping into the unknown a little bit,” Dravid said. “But as more and more matches are played, like we saw with the success of the Test in Adelaide, I think players will warm to the idea. The conversations that I am hearing from the players’ group is yes, there is a bit of skepticism, there are people who are a bit worried and are not completely sold on it, but as more games are played and people see that the ball holds up pretty well, the nature of the game isn’t changing too drastically from a normal match, we play on seaming tracks or square turners, different wickets in Test cricket.
“You could start the morning of a Test match on a seaming wicket and it improves as the game goes on. Here it might start flat and it might seam as the game goes on. There are going to be things that are slightly different but there are things that are different in every Test match in each and every country that you play in that are unique to that country and surface as well. So, I don’t think that’s something that should count as a negative.”
However, one of the biggest challenges while playing the day-night test match is whether the pink ball could hold for the time as it needs more protection to not lose its shine and visibility as it gets old. Preventive measures has been taken in the inaugural day-night test match last year when Australia faced New Zealand, the sides of the wicket were left with more grass. Similar approach is being followed at Eden Gardens in the super league final. Another argument is that day-night tests are in huge favour to seam bowlers but Rahul Dravid reckons that these early experiments will lead to valuable lessons and the concept will evolve over time.
“As we play more and more of it, we won’t need to ‘manufacture’ those conditions as much as we need to now because technology is going to get better, the condition of the ball too,” he said. “We will learn more about this. But haven’t we always in the Test scheme of things, I won’t say ‘manufacturing’ things, but we have gone from an era of uncovered wickets to covered wickets, to in the early days when cricket was played on a paddock. We have evolved and changed. You could say that even changing from uncovered wickets to covered wickets was manufacturing cricket in some ways and is that really Test cricket? We’ve had these debates through the history of the game, and we’ve always had them when there are new changes, so I see it no different from anything like that.”
Although discussions were still going on between India and New Zealand for a potential day-night test match, India are going to experiment a lot more with the pink ball in the upcoming days as Eden Gardens is already hosting Super League final with a pink ball under lights and Duleep trophy is also expected to the same as part of the experiment.
“I would love to see a day-night Test match in India because very clearly there are grounds in this country where people don’t come and watch,” he said. “I think each country and each situation could be unique, we can’t just say that because a Test match succeeded in Adelaide, it might not succeed in the winter in India because of the dew. I am glad we had this match in Kolkata and the Duleep Trophy will be played under lights. One of the things we can’t afford is we do the experiment without the right conditions and the players switch off from it. I think if it goes wrong initially you will find the players could switch off from it. We need to give it the best chance to succeed.”