On a day when Cricket Australia (CA) said they still prefer to play a day-night Test against India in Adelaide, a member of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) ruled out the possibility, citing reluctance from the Indian team management and players. India will tour Down Under in the winter (Australian summer) and the first Test of the four-match series is scheduled to be played in Adelaide from December 6.
“The CoA spoke to Ravi Shastri (the Indian team head coach) on April 12 and Shastri categorically mentioned that he has consulted with the team and the team is not ready to play pink-ball cricket just now. So a question of playing a day-night Test match in Adelaide just doesn’t arise,” a CoA member told The Indian Express.
It is learnt that the team believe this would be India’s best opportunity to bag their first-ever Test series win in Australia; especially against a depleted Australian team sans Steve Smith and David Warner. They don’t want to jeopardise their chances, as they are not “accustomed to” playing pink-ball cricket. Conditions in a day-night Test might tilt the balance in the hosts’ favour, giving them the momentum for the series.
Generally, the pink ball begins to swing around quite a bit under the lights, a reason a lot of wickets fall after dusk. And Australia still have some of the finest pace bowlers around such as Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins.
Also, the team management has set its sights on the next year’s World Cup and doesn’t want to go into any sort of experiment before the quadrennial showpiece. They will rather concentrate on playing red-ball cricket only (in the longest format) for now. This rules out a home day-night Test against the West Indies in October as well, despite the fact that the Cricket West Indies (CWI) has agreed to play one during their visit here.
Last week, during an interview with this paper, the BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary had said: “As far as the board is concerned, there’s negligible opposition. The idea was to host a day/night Test back in 2016. There was no opposition then. The cricket management, the coach (Ravi Shastri), the selectors, the office-bearers all are supporting this. And that’s why there is a proposal to convert one of the two Test matches against the West Indies later this year to a day/night Test.”
Meanwhile, CA chief executive James Sutherland told reporters in Australia on Monday that efforts to convince the BCCI are still on. “It is our preference that we play India in a day-night Test match in Adelaide, but we are still working through this detail and hope to have an answer on this in the coming weeks,” Sutherland said. The CA, however, announced the home summer schedule without mentioning the start time of the Adelaide Test.
Day-night Test has had been part of the Cricket Australia’s summer fixture for the last few seasons and Australia’s record in ‘twilight’ home Tests so far is fabulous. They beat New Zealand in the maiden day-night Test in November 2015 before prevailing over South Africa and Pakistan in 2016. Last year they got the better of England in the inaugural day-night Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval. South Africa were initially reluctant to play their 2016 Test under lights at Adelaide, fearing the hosts would have an unfair advantage. The Proteas lost by seven wickets.
Australia, incidentally, will play a day-night Test against Sri Lanka at the Gabba from January 24-28 next year. India, it is learnt, are also reluctant to have day-night Tests in the nine-team World Test Championship to be played from 2019. The Cricket Australia, on the other hand, is believed to be pushing the ICC to include pink-ball Tests in the Championship roster.