Harbajhan joins chorus of disapproval against BCCI's refusal to participate in day-night test

Harbhajan Singh has joined in the conversation around day/night tests, criticising the Board of Control for Cricket in India for their refusal to embrace the concept. The BCCI drew the ire of many around the world last month when they declined the opportunity to play their inaugural pink ball test in Australia later this year. The Adelaide Test has for four years been played as a day/night fixture, and was scheduled to go ahead as such this year before the BCCI stepped in. It’s worth noting that they are well within their rights to do this, as both sides need to agree on the dates and times of a match before it is scheduled.

The former star off-spinner, however, has roundly criticised this decision. Harbajhan took umbrage to the BCCI’s reasoning for the decision, which centred around not wanting to give Australia a competitive advantage. This advantage, the BCCI believe, would stem from the fact that the Australian’s have played with the pink ball four times in the past, whereas India have not yet played a game in that format. Vinod Rai, chief of the Committee of Administrators with the BCCI, claims that the decision simply reflects a desire to ‘win all the matches’, and that ‘any team that steps out on a pitch wants to win’. 

Harbajhan appeared displeased with the apparent conservatism from Indian cricket’s top administrators, claiming that they should instead be relishing the challenge which would accompany the new format. He asked ‘what makes us think our batsmen can’t take up the challenge of facing Aussie facers’, and that if they do get out easily, ‘we have fast bowlers to trouble them’.

He also cited past examples of the Indian team having to deal with new situations, and adapt accordingly. Harbajhan referenced India’s entrance to the test arena, and the different balls they had to adjust to bowling and batting with. His argument certainly has some validity, since cricket in India has managed to overcome similar issues in the past to now be consistently one of the best teams in the world. 

Harbajhan’s view is clearly in vast contrast to that of the administration. His comments would appear to suggest that he has a lot of confidence in the ability of the Indian team to deal with the new situation, and certainly much more so than the BCCI. 

Unsurprisingly, there has been no comment from the players themselves about what they think of the decision. There is no point guessing what their views might be, but there certainly does appear to be an element of mollycoddling from the Indian administration, who appear concerned about trying something new out of fear. In reality, the game being played at a different time is unlikely to entirely determine the outcome, and given the rest of the cricketing world appears to see day/night tests as a positive step forward for test cricket, the criticism the BCCI has received for their decision can be understood.

Former Australian test great Mark Waugh has also weighed into the discussion, calling India’s refusal to participate ‘selfish’. According to Waugh, ‘we need to revitalise test cricket’, and a day/night test between India and Australia would have been ‘for the greater good of the game’. On top of this, he expressed a lack of understanding for their decision, given their fast bowling lineup and sound batting techniques mean they would likely benefit from the increased propensity for swing later on in the day. 

Waugh is typically relatively outspoken, and as an Australian is certainly more inclined to side with his home team, but it’s difficult to disagree with his views, as well as those of Harbajhan. Virtually every other cricketing nation in the world is willing to try their hand at the new timeslot, and there appears to be a consensus that it is a positive move forward for a test cricket product which has been gradually dwindling in popularity for a number of years. The BCCI appear to have failed to see the big picture in making their decision, but even with that in mind the decision is unusual. As Waugh said, the Indian test team certainly has the tools to exploit the format. To refuse to participate in what is widely regarded as a step forward for test cricket on the off chance that it negatively impacts their ability to win that solitary game - which, to be perfectly honest, is probably not the case regardless - is a questionable decision, and one through which they have opened themselves up for criticism.