India appears poised to play its inaugural day/night Test next year, when they visit Australia. It has now been three years since the pink ball was first introduced to world cricket, and having being pioneered in Australia it has been hugely popular in the country.
The first ever day/night Test Match took place between the 27th November and the 1st of December, and was contested by Australia and New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval. The success was immediate, with over 120,000 people making their way to Adelaide Oval over just three days. Since then, five further day/night tests have been completed, one is currently in progress between Australia and England at the Adelaide Oval, and two more are scheduled in the coming months.
India is one of the only major Test playing nations which is yet to participate in a day/night test. As well as New Zealand and Australia, who played in the first such Test, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, England, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe have all participated in at least one.
Day/night Tests have taken place around the world, and are growing increasingly more common. 2015 saw just one, before three took place in 2016; two in Australia and one in Dubai, where Pakistan hosted. By the end of this calendar year, there will have been four played. England and South Africa will have hosted them for the first time this year, while Adelaide and Dubai will again host the new time slot. Next year, the Auckland Test between New Zealand and England will be the first ever hosted on Kiwi soil.
Clearly, the later starting time is being embraced around the world. As yet though, the day/night fever does not appear to have reached India. Assuming they agree to Cricket Australia’s request to play in one next year, the fever may finally be on the way.
In the 2018/19 Australian Summer, Australia will host both Sri Lanka and India, and as the primary pioneer of the day/night tests, Cricket Australia are anticipating playing one with each of these teams. Sri Lanka played its first Test of this kind just two months ago when they met Pakistan in Dubai. This signalled a willingness to embrace the format, and Australia shouldn’t have any problems convincing them to participate in another one.
India, though, would appear to be a different matter, given they have not yet agreed to a day/night Test since the format started two years ago. Head of Cricket Australia James Sutherland does not appear concerned by this though, stating ‘I would anticipate there’s not going to be too much of a problem there’.
India will be expected to draw the larger crowd of the two visitors to Australia next year, given their extremely large and incredibly passionate fanbase, and that makes them a perfect candidate for a day/night Test. Undoubtedly, thousands of ardent Indian supporters will make their way to Australia to support their team, and will be able to contribute to the fantastic atmosphere which day/night Tests tend to create.
A day/night Test would bring the match time to a much more convenient time slot for supporters wishing to catch the game live from India. Indian Standard Time (IST) is five hours earlier than Australian Central Daylight Savings Time (ACDT), meaning an ordinary day Test played in Adelaide will start at 6am, and finish by 1pm. This may not be a problem for early risers, but for many fans it means large chunks of the game will be played while they are asleep.
The day/night Test pushes back the start time by three hours, to 2pm ACDT. This is 9am IST, and each day’s play will run through until 4pm, not dissimilar to the ordinary hours of a day Test played in India. This will likely appeal to many Indian supporters.
It appears a foregone conclusion that India will finally join the ever-growing group of Test playing nations to have participated in and embraced the day/night Test format. Cricket Australia is confident of making it happen, and there are many benefits to the Indian team, not least the increased exposure the game will get in their home country due to the more viewer-friendly timezone. Day/night cricket is taking off around the world, and 2018 seems likely to be the year in which India will join in.