India are prepared to play Australia in a Day-Night test when they visit there next summer. That is according to their captain Virat Kohli, who insists that his team will relish the opportunity to face their old adversary in a pink ball match.
Kevin Roberts, the current boss of Cricket Australia, is in India this week, and will be meeting Sourav Ganguly, president of the BCCI, with Day-Night tests one of the topics on their agenda.
The issue was a sticking point between the two teams during India’s last tour of Australia, with the visitors refusing to take part in such a contest. However, having successfully trialling the concept against Bangladesh last November, Kohli and his team mates are happy with how it went, and are keen to play more such matches.
The push to hold more Day-Night matches is part of a wider swathe of initiatives to revive interest in test cricket which, outside the heartlands of England and Australia, is declining in popularity. This is partly because the length of the game does not appeal to younger fans, who prefer the excitement of shorter formats, and also because of the time that games are scheduled. Staging them later in the day makes them more accessible to TV viewers, and also means that paying spectators can take in test cricket after work, without having to sacrifice a day off to do so.
India’s opposition to Day-Night matches was founded on two points – concerns over player safety, and also the effect of the pink ball on how matches are played. Player safety is an issue because of the difficulty that batsmen can have in picking up short balls in the light, particularly in twilight, when the lights are not fully on yet. And, indeed, this was illustrated in the test against Bangladesh, where several of the visiting batsmen were injured after failing to see deliveries in time.
Playing under lights also tends to cancel out the effects of swing, because of the different manufacturing technique required to produce pink balls, and largely invalidates spin bowling.
Nevertheless, such matches appear here to stay, although for India to take on Australia in their own backyard in such conditions will be a huge examination, as the Australians have won all six pink ball tests they have played on home soil.