Pink ball and bad lights: Why historic day & night Test at Eden Gardens can be complete turn-off for India
In order to up the ante by letting India embrace the modern-day phenomena of playing the longest format of the gentlemen's game under floodlights, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly was seemingly putting the pedal to the metal when he did something unprecedented before completing a week at the office on Tuesday. Ganguly confirmed that Team India under their charismatic skipper Virat Kohli will grace the monumental Eden Gardens stadium for 2nd Test proceedings against Bangladesh under floodlights.
By virtue of a mutual agreement, India and Bangladesh are on the verge of embracing an unfamiliar cricketing scenario as they look forward to staging their first-ever pink ball encounter since Test cricket's inception on the international circuit. For the record, the 2nd Test meeting between India and Bangladesh will be the 12th day and night match played in the five-day format. Barring Ganguly's connection with his home ground, the iconic Eden Gardens still remains to be an integral part of the Indian cricket folklore.
Yes, Eden Gardens is indispensable to Indian cricket
Established in 1864, Eden Gardens stands as the oldest cricket stadium in India. While England's Lord's is the Mecca of cricket, Indian fans feel proud to call Eden Gardens India's home of cricket. From VVS Laxman's marathon 281-run knock against Australia to Kapil Dev's seam bowling masterclass when he took a hat-trick, there's no denying that cricket's answer to the Colosseum has rightfully lived up to its expectations over the past decades. Even Sachin Tendulkar's infamous run out against Pakistan in 1999 is still fresh in fans' memory as Kuldeep Yadav's hat-trick is, although the second incident is only two years old.
(All photos: IANS and AP)
But India not ready to 'Test' day-night cricket in the longest format
If the same question was served on a silver platter during any of India's away assignment then the answer would've been an automatically no. If Ganguly is keen on giving justice as BCCI chief by attending pending cases on fast track court then it doesn't mean Kohli & Co. are upbeat to endorse a new dawn in the Indian cricket overnight. India's approval to play day and night Test has come almost a year after they chose to not budge when a depleted Australian suggested them to take the leap of faith in Down Under.
What happens in Adelaide won't stay in Adelaide because many teams will demand India to feature in the same format in the near future. Keeping the vulnerability of Australian team in mind, India opted to maintain distance from the Adelaide venue when the then host nation expressed their desire of making the Test match a day and night affair between the two sides.
As the reluctance came handy to the then visitors in Down Under, the same cannot be expected when they tour Australia in 2020. And playing their first day and night Test in November doesn't mean India can feature in day/night stipulations in every second Test they play before a big away tour in the ongoing ICC Test Championship come calling.
Bigger picture: How good is the overall preparation?
From in house facilities to make sure fans also get a good experience from the landmark judgment, the BCCI should also look to elevate the standards of the cricket stadiums. Eden Gardens may be the most celebrated and cherished venue, that doesn't mean the ground hasn't collected bad and forgetful memories in the past. Only matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and limited-overs international games have been successful in India despite the game being followed as a religion no matter what format the gentlemen's game is being played.
Bad lights can stop play you know...
The crowd turnout in the recently concluded Ranchi Test which showcased batting masterclass from Kohli triggered the Indian captain to demand Test shrines in India to safeguard the longevity of the oldest format in India. Even bad stadium lights in India is a major concern which eats up overs like rain gods. Recalling what happened in the third Test, there were instances which were flagged by critics and the away side. Bad lights stopping day's play has remained synonyms with rain spoilsport in India.
Eden Gardens has also produced incidents where bad lights have triggered the premature end of day's play. Stadium lights had a final say when Eden Gardens last hosted a Test match. Courtesy fading lights on Day 5, Sri Lanka managed to salvage a draw in the bilateral series opener (1st Test 2017) two years ago. Any Test especially a day and night can be a turn-off for fans if peak hours or game-changing moments are relaxed by unplayable conditions. At a time when stakes are even high since Test matches fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC Test Championship, such unpreparedness from the home side can be a blessing in disguise for any visiting side.
Not to forget SG pink balls will be deployed
The Kolkata Test will also mark the arrival of pink SG balls in the international Test cricket scenario. Pink balls are yet to convince the Indian bowlers especially the spinners, who are expected to deal with the headaches of turning the match ball as per their own discretion. Chinaman Kuldeep was left unimpressed with the pink SG ball in the Duleep Trophy and asserted that due to the extra lacquer, the pink ball failed to turn on the surface.
For some pacers, the SG balls are a delight courtesy extra lacquer which boosts the chances of the ball swing and seam more than it should. In layman terms, a crafty pacer like Mohammad Shami has the potential to be a walking nightmare even on a bad day at the office. Not only the Indian players have little knowledge when it comes to making the SG balls their friend but the BCCI is also touted to be low on stocks if there is a spike in use of good quality SG balls.