Future of Tests in India depends on the success of Pink-ball cricket

Chennai: A landmark occasion beckons Indian cricket as the nation is all set to host Bangladesh in the historic Day/Night Test match at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata tomorrow.

Over the years, cricket has seen some revolutionary changes to suit the modern world. From being played for five long days with the red ball in broad daylight, ever since the late 19th century, the introduction of the ODI format gave a new dimension to the sport. Initially played with red-ball and white jerseys, Day-Night matches under the floodlights changed the sport completely.

White jerseys became colourful and the red ball became white as it offered a different cricketing experience to the spectators. It was at this juncture, the Test cricket was deemed too long and ODIs started attracting the crowd.

India hosted its first Day-Night ODI in India in the year 1984 against Australia in New Delhi. But in the late 90s and early part of the 2000s people started getting disenfranchised as many thought that the ODI format was also too long. This led to the birth of the 20-over format. Unlike the ODIs, a full 20 over matches lasted not more than three hours and with sixes and boundaries scored too often by the batters, it gave all the excitement to the fans around the world.

However all these affected the cricket’s traditional format to a great extent as people coming to a stadium to watch a Test match started dwindling all-around. With the audience used to the slam bang action in T20 cricket, there was no patience to watch a Test match. Over the last few years, empty stands became the order of a day whenever a Test was played anywhere in the world and these were ominous signs that showed that the longest format of the game is falling into oblivion and needs a fillip.

So to revive Test cricket and make the audience get back to the ground, Day-Night Test matches using the pink ball cwas introduced which can be played from afternoon till the night so that it could draw the office-going crowd to the ground after a hard day at office. Australia hosted the first Day/Night Test in Adelaide against New Zealand in 2015.

Soon other countries followed suit and over the last four years, eleven matches have been played. However the BCCI as expected remained hesitant to give its nod to the pink-ball cricket. Though it was tested in the Duleep Trophy BCCI didn’t wish to continue with it in the subsequent year.

Just when it looked like it would take some more years for India to play with the pink-ball, Ganguly took over as the president of BCCI and convinced both the skipper Virat Kohli and the Bangladesh Cricket Board into agreeing to play the Pink-Ball Test at the Eden Gardens within a short time and now the stage is set for the historic pink-ball debut in India

With sold-out tickets already a positive sign that the pink-ball cricket will get back the interest among the spectators to watch Test matches, the success of it will set the stage for the future of pink-ball cricket in India. With BCCI already a good revenue-generating body, it remains to be seen what the future holds for the red-ball cricket once pink-ball starts generating a good revenue and a good spectator turn out.

Aaditya Anand M