New Delhi: Despite the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) initially planning to host a day-night Test this year against West Indies after consulting chief coach Ravi Shastri, the board's office-bearers were informed by the SC-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) that there can be no day-night Test matches against the West Indies or Australia. This is because the Indian head coach has told the CoA that the team needs 12 to 18 months to prepare for pink-ball cricket. And this sudden u-turn from the Shastri has left the BCCI office-bearers surprised.
Speaking to CricketNext, a senior BCCI official said that it was indeed baffling that the man who had given the nod 3 months back, saying that getting crowds to the game was important, has suddenly gone ahead and informed the CoA that the team needs to prepare for 12 to 18 months to play any day-night Test.
“It is curious to see that the Indian coach was ready to experiment with day-night cricket with the pink ball in India about three months back but now the same decision making process makes him say that 12 to 18 months of practice would be required for the team. There is no indication as to what the practice would be and what would be the logistics and time management surrounding that. One has to play pink – ball cricket to practice,” the official explained.
In his letter to acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary in regards to playing day-night Test matches, Shastri had written: “As far as day-night cricket goes it can be tried out as an experiment with a game starting at 12 and where the dew will play. Again, against a team like the West Indies it has to be played in a Tier-II city without a doubt. To get in the crowds, it doesn't matter if it's a day game or day-night game. What's important is a Tier-II city.”
While the BCCI has gone ahead and shot down the proposal of Cricket Australia to play a day-night Test, what has further shocked the office-bearers is that the CoA in its letter to them -- in possession of CricketNext -- claims that they came to know of the team’s hesitancy when they met Shastri on April 12 and had immediately informed the technical committee of the same. Interestingly, the technical committee of the BCCI has no clue of any such point being discussed regarding day-night Tests.
“The current system of decision making process within the board is what I would describe as a ‘hit and try’ method of taking decisions. It is to be expected with the CoA’s aversion to the BCCI’s committees, and it appears that they perceive the committees as entities that get in their way of taking decisions. They would be spot-on in terms of the day to day management that they are required to supervise. However, policy decisions are not in their domain and the scenario is that those required to execute the policies are presently taking policy decisions which in a manner of speaking is itself a big conflict of interest,” an official who was part of the technical committee meeting said.
India skipper Virat Kohli’s move to play for Surrey in county cricket, rather than playing the Test against Afghanistan has also raised eyebrows within the BCCI as some officials feel that this is once again setting a bad precedent and hopefully the India captain will realise that leading the national team is a huge responsibility and he will return in time for the Afghanistan game.
“The decision by Kohli of dropping a Test match to play county cricket for practice for the England series is also a surprising decision. If this particular plan was known earlier, the BCCI may not have scheduled the Afghanistan Test as it is not just another Test with a new Test team but in fact is going to be a historic and emotional event from many viewpoints and the visiting team deserves every ounce of respect that the hosts can give them. I can understand the captain wanting to prepare well for the next series but the captaincy of India comes with responsibilities. However, I do hope he is able to fly back to India to play the Test and then join Surrey after the Test because ultimately it does appear that it is his wishes that are being catered to by the COA and the CEO, and the processes of decision making appear to be organised around that,” the official rued.
India are set to host Afghanistan in a one-off Test from June 14. After that the team will head to Ireland and then finally arrive in England for a limited-overs and Test series.