Indian team’s head coach Anil Kumble made it absolutely clear that ‘Pink Ball Test’ is “still a long way” even though he admitted that day-night Tests seem to be the future if ICC wants to sustain the interest of cricket lovers in the longest format of the game.
Anil Kumble revealed that his immediate focus is on how the boys adjust themselves against ‘Red Dukes’ in West Indies when asked how Indian spinners would do with pink kookaburra on sub-continental pitches.
“We haven’t really thought about pink ball yet as far as I know. It’s still a long way. We will be playing with Dukes red ball in the West Indies. I would like to take one match at a time.”
By all means, the ‘Adelaide adventure’ where Australia demolished New Zealand inside three days was to some extent overwhelming. The 22-yard battle only lasted three days, but upwards of 123,000 people thronged the Adelaide Oval. To be fair, global television viewing numbers were also impressive, which forced Cricket Australia to consider the new experiment as an unqualified success.
But what about the cricketers themselves? What about the playing conditions? What about the difficulties of seeing the pink ball? Of the need to protect the colour of the ball a grassy, non-abrasive surface was prepared, but it actually took two main bowling weapons – spin and reverse swing – out of the equation. So how can the void be filled?
Interestingly, long before Australia were able to conceptualise day-night first-class cricket, India showed the light in April 1997 – surprisingly, you may say – when the Ranji Trophy final was held under lights, Captain Roop Singh Stadium in Gwalior witnessed the historical event.
But it was not a pink one, white ball was used; Mumbai and Delhi fought the five-day title clash decided on the first innings during a long scoring contest. Delhi eventually replied to Mumbai’s 630 with 559, maybe it was impressive on its own but obviously well short in the context of the game itself.
The experiment was a complete failure. BCCI’s attempt to bring back life to Ranji cricket didn’t work. Not even the fact that there was provision for a change of ball after 40 overs actually helped; the heavy dew made the situation further worse for the bowlers.
But the question must be asked – Indian cricket ready for the proposed pink-ball Test? Is only one competition, the revamped Duleep Trophy, enough for Team India’s big names – and that’s just assuming the big guns are interested and committed to play a domestic tournament – to adjust themselves while playing the longer format under lights?
What about the dispensing with India’s traditional strength with the help of which South Africa were humiliated 3-0 in a four-Test series last winter? And, most importantly, what about the dew factor? How will you counter this very genuine possibility?