November 27 2015 witnessed the biggest innovation in the 138 years of Test cricket when the umpire called play at 2pm in Adelaide and Australia’s Mitchell Starc ran in to deliver a pink ball. After a lot of speculations the first day-night Test match was finally played between Australia and New Zealand.
With the rise of T20 cricket, the longest format of the game has seen a steady decline in its popularity. Cricket officials from all around the world are desperate to draw the crowd towards Test cricket once again and pink ball is now seen as a potential measure to achieve that aim. The present scenario has seen almost every major cricket playing nation expressing their desire to play the day-night Test and India is one of them.
India has already seen the first day-night 4-day game being played on its soil when the iconic Eden Gardens hosted CAB Super League final between Mohun Bagan and Bhowanipore under lights.
While the game ended with nothing unusual but a careful assessment will reveal that there were worrying signs for the Indian cricket.
The BCCI are making all possible efforts to embrace the latest version of the game but the pink ball’s debut at the Eden Gardens might have caused some serious doubts in the minds of BCCI officials. The way the pink ball behaved, it seems retaining India’s home advantage will be a very big challenge for the BCCI.
In the CAB Super League final, the pink ball assisted the pacers a lot while there was almost nothing for the spinners. While one can say that the conditions were suitable for the pacers as the match was played on an excessively green pitch but the pink ball’s tendency to swing and seamed throughout the day will worry the officials.
India’s Test wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha, who played for Mohun Bagan and scored 33 and 0, said it wasn’t the ball’s movement but its persistence to do that throughout was a concern.
“We took our stance some yards outside the crease in order to counter the swing,” Saha was quoted as saying by the Telegraph. “The ball continued to swing even during the latter stages, which doesn’t happen with a red ball. If you apply yourself against the pink ball and on this kind of a green wicket, you will surely get runs. That’s what Anustup did. I too could’ve got more if not for that false stroke.”
The visibility was not an issue as stated by several players. However, one of the umpires of the match Premdip Chatterjee expressed his surprise over the ball’s ability to retain its hardness even after getting old.
“I was surprised to see the hardness of the ball even after 57 overs,” umpire Premdip Chatterjee was quoted as saying by the Indian Express. “And unlike the white Kookaburra, the seam was still standing up.”
As India is planning to play day-night test in the recent future, they will have to closely monitor all these issues in order to maintain its home supremacy. India has traditionally relied on spinners to win Test matches and looking at the pink ball’s behaviour it will be very tough for the Indian spinners to spin the ball.
India will be playing against New Zealand, England and Australia in the coming season and the pacers of these teams can create a lot of problems for the Indian batsmen if they are given the same conditions. The Indian pacers will also suffer as they will find it tough to get reverse swing because of the doctored conditions.
Another factor that was not seen in this match but is likely to happen in the future is – dew. Well this is just the starting and the there is still a long way to go so one cannot predict the exact nature of the pink ball. But if the conditions are not changed then there will be serious issues for the Indian cricket. In order to maintain the visibility of the pink ball, the conditions have been made suitable for the seamers for the time being and so it will be extremely tough for India to maintain its supremacy in the home conditions.
Well it will be interesting to see how the Indian players react to the latest innovation.