The possibility of a day-night Test between Australia and India next year seems to be drawing closer as Virat Kohli said for the second time in four days that his team is “open to doing anything” to move Test cricket ahead, provided they were given enough time to prepare for the challenge.
On Thursday, Kohli had suggested that India’s refusal to play the Adelaide Test under lights on last year’s tour was down to it being “more of a spontaneous plan” and not something that India could have prepared for. The BCCI had turned down Cricket Australia’s offer to play a pink-ball Test in Adelaide just shy of seven months before the game was due to begin on December 6.
After the end of the Kolkata Test, India’s first day-night long-format fixture, Kohli reiterated his point about preparation. He also said India were wary of the fact that they might not have learnt everything there is about this novelty, which would only strengthen the case for playing more of it.
“There has to be planning for a pink-ball game,” Kohli said. “We’re playing in home conditions, but if you ask the Bangladesh team, they’d have also liked a practice game. Because we know our conditions and the bowlers are really bowling well, so we don’t really feel the challenge or the things that are different about pink-ball cricket. Maybe when we play away from home we will figure out what could be even more difficult while playing with the pink ball. I think with a good practice game before that and enough time to prepare, we’re open to doing anything. You can’t just play it on short notice, like I mentioned last time.”
Kohli was responding to a direct question regarding Tim Paine‘s tongue-in-cheek comment earlier in the day when Australia’s captain expressed interest in playing a pink-ball Test against India. Paine, who was in a witty mood during the press conference after his side beat Pakistan, had also quipped about seeking Kohli’s permission to begin their home summer at Gabba.
“We’ll certainly try [to start at the Gabba] but we’ll have to run that by Virat,” Paine said. “I am sure we’ll get an answer from him at some stage. That’s where we like to start our summer and has been for a long, long time except for last summer. As I said we’ll ask Virat, see if we can get his permission to play here. Maybe even get a pink-ball Test, if he’s in a good mood.”
On Thursday, Kohli had also outlined the kind of preparation India would like on overseas tours if they were to play pink-ball Test, mostly centred around timing a practice match as close to the actual game as possible.
“I think it depends when the Test happens,” Kohli had said. “If it’s the first Test, then obviously before the first game you play [a practice match]. One of them can be a normal red-ball practice game, and one before the Test could be a pink-ball practice game. But if it’s the second or third Test, I would ideally like more break between the two Tests. And have a practice game before the pink-ball Test, obviously under lights. So it can’t be that before the tour you play a pink-ball practice game and then the [pink-ball] Test is actually the third.”
On Saturday, his team-mate Cheteshwar Pujara said he was apprehensive about such an arrangement because of the logistical issues in fitting a practice match midway through a series.
“When we are playing away from home, we normally would play just one Test with the pink ball and the other three with the red one,” Pujara said. “So I would rather have a practice game with the red ball rather than pink, and in any case we don’t play practice games in between Test matches. I don’t think it’s practical to play a pink-ball practice game.”
One way or another, it is looking likely that a day-night fixture will be in the schedule when India and Australia meet about a year from now. Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts recently shared his optimism on the same, praising the BCCI’s new president Sourav Ganguly for taking a step towards embracing pink-ball cricket. Roberts said the discussions so far had been encouraging.
“It’s fantastic to see Sourav Ganguly leading the charge as the new president of the BCCI on that,” Roberts told SEN Radio. “We’re having productive discussions with India about the prospect of us playing day-night Tests in the future. Let’s hope this week’s experience in Kolkata is a really powerful one for them and a good experience that gives them more confidence about playing more day-night Test cricket going forward.”