There is a perception in cricketing circles that Test cricket is in a near comatose state waiting to be put on the ventilator. The BCCI’s rather belated move to jump into the ‘pink cricket’ bandwagon has to be seen in this context.
India is of course a late entrant to day-night Test matches. Before India almost all Test-playing nations including Zimbabwe had played ‘pink ball’ Test cricket. But India has been late in adopting many cricketing innovations including DRS system and T20 cricket. Not many would recall today that India was initially lukewarm to T20 cricket and only reluctantly participated in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 in South Africa. But once Sreesanth took that famous catch in the finals against Pakistan and Dhoni lifted the trophy, the course of world cricket changed. India’s 2007 World Cup victory paved the way for the hugely popular IPL, which in turn spawned T20 leagues across the world. So will India’s entry into pink ball cricket lead to a similar revolution in world cricket? One hopes not, because some parts of tradition are best left alone. Traditional day Test matches and pink ball Tests can coexist, but cricket boards across the world must ensure that pink ball cricket never replaces ‘red ball’ cricket.
A big votary of Test cricket is none other than Indian captain Virat Kohli. Speaking to the media just before the current Kolkata Test, Kohli said, “The entertainment of Test cricket lies in the fact that the batsman is trying to survive and the bowlers trying to set up a batsman; if people don’t respond to it that’s too bad”.
It’s heartening to see Kohli, who belongs to a generation of cricketers that was reared on ODIs and T20s, making such a passionate defence of cricket’s oldest format. The India captain, apart from being a brilliant batsman and astute captain, can sometimes surprise you with his insight too.