India turn down opportunity to play in their first ever day-night test in Australia during 2018 tour

India have determined that they aren’t yet ready to participate in their inaugural day-night test in 2018, forcing a change in the schedule for their Australian tour later this year.

The background

For three consecutive years, the annual Test match in Adelaide has been a day-night matchup, and has each year been very successful. First New Zealand, then South Africa and last year England have toured Australia over the past three summers, and each nation has agreed to start proceedings at 2pm throughout the Adelaide Test.

India, however, have lagged a little behind other nations with regards to the concept of a day-night test, and are still yet to play in one. According to the BCCI, they won’t be ready until next year, and as a result have asked for the Adelaide test to be exclusively a daytime affair. According to acting secretary of the BCCI, ‘India will begin to play in the format only in about a year’s time’. 

Why won’t India participate?

According to prominent Indian newspaper, Times of India, the BCCI quite simply doesn’t see much of a future in the concept.  The ICC Test Championship will kick off in 2019, and as yet there has been no mention by the ICC of any proposed day-night tests. As a result, it appears, India don’t feel the need to invest in a format which potentially has no future.

The stance taken by Australia though, and indeed most of the rest of the world, seems vastly different. Chief Executive of Cricket Australia, James Sutherland, recently stated that ‘I believe it’s the way of the future. I think everyone in world cricket knows that’. Despite India’s hesitance to embrace the concept, it seems Sutherland’s comments have some validity. In the past three years, the Adelaide day-night test has been the most watched game of the Australian summer, and attendances have also been extremely strong.

Cricket Australia are certainly not alone in believing in the concept of day-night cricket. Though Australia have been probably the strongest proponent of the format, playing in five day-night matches overall, all nine Full Test playing nations with the exception of India and Bangladesh have played in at least one.

There appears to be a relatively obvious interest in it from most cricketing nations around the world, and the increased interest in the time slot showed by fans makes it plain to see why. Perhaps the BCCI knows something that the other nations do not, but it is difficult to see their refusal to participate as justifiable given the facts.

What happens now?

Despite India’s refusal to play a day-night test, Australia will still host one during the upcoming summer. Sutherland stated that ‘we have committed to hosting at least one day-night Test each home summer as part of our continued focus to grow Test cricket’. As a result, the later start will be moved to the Brisbane test at the Gabba, where Australia will host Sri Lanka. 

Presumably, this will now be the most watched Test of the summer in Australia. The high television ratings for the Adelaide tests in previous years certainly weren’t to do with the fact that the game was being played on what is typically regarded as a relatively benign wicket - rather it was to do with the increased ability for fans to tune in or attend the game outside of work hours, and that will continue to be the case wherever the test is held.

Though their statement was reasonably vague, the BCCI have stated a willingness to participate in the new time slot from next year onwards. Whether they will come through on this statement remains to be seen, but for the moment they are a clear outlier in world cricket for their refusal to join in on what appears to be a positive change for Test cricket. They no doubt have their reasons, but they are not reasons that any other nations have seen as justifying non-participation. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.