India’s cricket board has a reputation for doing things its own way, at its own pace.
- India has decided not to play a day-night Test against Australia this summer
- The First Test in Adelaide will go ahead during traditional hours
- The SA Cricket Association says India has missed an opportunity, but accepts the decision
While the decision review system (DRS) was introduced a decade ago, India has for a long time been reluctant to adopt it during Test series.
Now, the world’s most powerful cricketing nation has knocked back the chance to play a day-night Test match on Australian soil.
Instead, it has committed to a summer of four day-time Tests, leaving fans of the new format in the lurch.
“They’ve missed an opportunity,” said a disappointed Keith Bradshaw, chief executive of the South Australian Cricket Association.
“This would have been something for the game of cricket. Obviously, there would have been a lot of interest in India.”
Adelaide Oval had looked likely to secure the first pink ball contest between Australia and India, with Bradshaw saying there were “good vibes” arising from the negotiations.
But today Cricket Australia confirmed that would not be the case.
“We have received advice from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that it is not prepared to participate in a proposed day-night Test in Adelaide this summer,” a Cricket Australia spokesperson said.
Instead, the Adelaide Test will be played out during traditional daytime hours, and the Gabba Test in January against Sri Lanka will be the only day-night Test of the summer.
Why was India reluctant?
Adelaide Oval is famous for being a batsman’s paradise, but the pink ball’s tendency to swing — especially in the moist air of the evening session — has changed that.
The three day-night Tests played at the venue so far have all produced results, and bowlers have tended to dominate.
“Perhaps there is some hesitation around the twilight period, some feeling that the bowlers would be offered extra assistance,” Bradshaw speculated.
While many Australian fans will be tempted to blame India’s batsmen not wanting to face the pink ball, it should be remembered that India has never won a Test series in Australia.
The upcoming summer might be its best chance in a long time to do so, given Australia will be severely depleted in the wake of the bans handed down to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
“India has no experience of this format,” said cricket writer Gideon Haigh.
“If it feels as though it’s disadvantaged by any playing condition, it’s very unlikely that it will go along with it.
“It will quite fancy its chances on flat Australian wickets, particularly with Australia deprived of its two best batsmen.”
Whose decision was it?
Virat Kohli would have had a huge say in the decision, Gideon Haigh believes. (AP: Aijaz Rahi)
India is one of only two current Test-playing nations not yet to have played a day-night Test.
While the BCCI is commonly regarded as a monolith run by business moguls, Haigh suggested that was perhaps becoming a misperception.
Instead, the decision to scrap the day-night Test proposal may have been made by the playing group, especially star batsman and captain Virat Kohli.
“Kohli wields perhaps even greater power than Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni before him,” Haigh said.
“In fact, the administration itself these days is kind of weak.
“What [Kohli] says goes, and I can’t imagine that he wasn’t consulted and didn’t have a significant say in how the BCCI’s made its decision.”
What do locals think?
The three previous day-night Tests at Adelaide Oval have been overwhelmingly well supported.
Last year, Adelaide Oval broke an attendance record set during the Bodyline series, for the most number of people at a day’s play at the ground (55,317).
“Fans have voted with their feet, we’ve had record crowds for the past three years,” Bradshaw said.
“There will be some financial loss but I am yet to sit down and go through what those numbers might be.”
Publican Kym Bond, who manages The Cathedral Hotel which is a stone’s throw from the ground, said the day-night Test has been good for his venue.
“It creates a party atmosphere off the bat,” he said.
“They just flood in. Everyone comes over, it’s pretty hectic.
“Being so close to the oval, we’ve been able to capitalise before and after the game.”
But others hold more traditional views, including former SA wicketkeeper and Australian captain Barry Jarman.
“Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I prefer the day Test,” he said.