India are getting closer to playing day-night Test cricket. According to BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, Indian captain Virat Kohli has told him he is “agreeable” to day-night Tests although there is no definitive date as to when it would happen.
Ganguly said India had no choice and playing day-night Tests was the “way forward” if Test cricket needed to attract crowds. That is what he told Kohli during their meeting in Mumbai on Thursday at the BCCI headquarters. It was the first meeting between Ganguly and Kohli after the former captain took charge as BCCI president on October 23.
“We all are thinking about this. We will do something about this,” Ganguly said on Friday at the Eden Gardens at an event organised by Cricket Association of Bengal to felicitate him on him taking charge at BCCI. “I am a big believer in day-night Tests. Kohli is agreeable to it. I see a lot of reports in newspapers that he is not, but that is not true. The game needs to go forward and that is the way forward. People should finish work and come to watch champions play. I don’t know when that will happen, but it will.”
India, No.1 on the ICC’s Test rankings, and Bangladesh are the only teams (outside of newly promoted Ireland and Afghanistan) to never have played a pink ball Test cricket since Australia and New Zealand featured in the first one in 2016.
Now, with the World Test Championship under way, the onus is on the host board to organise day-night Tests, but the BCCI had expressed its reluctance, mainly because India wanted to protect its points and Indian players had not played enough first-class cricket under lights.
Ganguly has been pushing for India to play with the pink ball even when he was head of the BCCI’s technical committee. In the past, he had recommended that the BCCI continue to invest in playing Duleep Trophy (domestic five-day tournament) under lights, an experiment first used in 2016. This season the board had initially planned for the Duleep final to be a day-night affair only to change its mind at the last minute.
When day-night Tests were launched, the ICC had said that it was a way to let fans come back to the ground after work and have a nice time. The first one in Adelaide was packed on all three days.
Earlier this week Kohli had suggested BCCI could limit Test cricket to five of the big venues in India, saying one of the advantages of doing that would be attracting large crowds. His comments came after the final two Tests of the South Africa series were played to sparse crowds in Pune and Ranchi. Ganguly thinks day-night Tests could be a good option to sort that problem too.
“Cricket needs a change,” he said. “Who had thought that T20 cricket will be such a rage when it was first played? Even we (senior players) were asked to rest when the format was first played. See lifestyles have changed. No one can afford to bunk schools or offices these days to watch cricket. They need to be brought to the ground after day’s work.”
India’s upcoming Test calendar includes a two-match series against Bangladesh in November and a three-match series in New Zealand next February and March