Let test cricket be the ultimate winner

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Kolkata: The stage is all set. It’s just hours before Eden Gardens, Kolkata once again etches its name in history. Come November 22, the Mecca of Indian cricket will host the maiden Test match in the country under lights with the pink ball. It will be game on between India and Bangladesh albeit with a huge twist. The red ball makes way for its pink counterpart that will ask quite a few questions to cricketers.

At a time, when the oldest format of the game was in dire need of redemption, Test matches (11 have been played so far) with the pink ball, have come to its rescue. India though took some time before agreeing to this format, but all’s well that ends well.

Amid the glitz and pomp, the real charm of Test cricket should not get a beating. It’s after all serious business and by no means can we repudiate that. In this context, it is pertinent to mention how the Indian Premier League (IPL) is castigated and doubts are raised on the motive behind the cash-rich tournament. “It’s a circus, by the way,” that’s the common view.

Will Day-Night Test cricket go the IPL way? It would be a shame if the game is compromised for commercial purposes and alluring people to the ground. A cricketer is not held in the highest esteem, if he is a failure in the five-day format. And there are plenty of examples in Indian cricket itself – Yuvraj Singh, Mohd Kaif, Suresh Raina and even Shikhar Dhawan. In fact, greatness is measured in terms of one’s achievements in Test matches despite the advent of the truncated versions of the game.

Well, you can’t blame the critics since the event despite being a happy-hunting ground to spot talents, has had its share of controversies. Be it the after-match parties, presence of DJs on the ground or cheerleaders bringing the oomph factor or the inter-mingling of cricket and Bollywood, the real sufferer is the game of cricket, as anti-IPL factions are of the view. And add to them, the ghost of match fixing that has blemished the credibility of the tournament.

Will Day-Night Test cricket go the IPL way? It would be a shame if the game is compromised for commercial purposes and alluring people to the ground. A cricketer is not held in the highest esteem, if he is a failure in the five-day format. And there are plenty of examples in Indian cricket itself – Yuvraj Singh, Mohd Kaif, Suresh Raina and even Shikhar Dhawan. In fact, greatness is measured in terms of one’s achievements in Test matches despite the advent of the truncated versions of the game.

Batsmen are not pampered with field restrictions in Tests and the real battle starts then and there. Bat against three slips and a gully as the bowlers runs fast and pitches it hard. The pitches outside the sub continent are hard and bouncy and to stand up to such adversities takes a sound temperament and determination. It’s not a gamble like in the ODIs and T20s.

Keeping the tradition of Test cricket in mind, there could be a fright that the paraphernalia may overshadow the game. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has big plans to mark the historic occasion. The august presence of political leaders, former cricketers and renowned Indian sporting personalities means the inauguration will be an unforgettable affair. The sentiment and euphoria are understandable since it is going to be the first Test under lights in the country, but if you are an avid follower of the game especially the longest format, you would be keener to see how the two teams handle the conditions that were alien to them all this while. All eyes will be on the middle eventually.

Pink-ball cricket is different business as the batters would have to adjust to the movement of the ball which will be sharper than that of the red cherry. Watching the ball till the end and not committing early would make the difference. Similarly, bowlers would take time to acclimatise to the pink ball and spinners could find going tough to spin it around because of the extra lacquer applied to keep the ball visible under the lights. For pacers though, the swing will last for a longer period.

It is imperative that off-field activities are restricted and the game of cricket remains the real focus not just at the Eden Gardens but any venue that hosts a Test match under lights. We Indians have a tendency to get swayed by profligacy – the IPL being a glaring example. To put it succinctly, let the game be the real winner. A strict vigilance to not let notorious elements cast a slur on the game is a must, in other words, precautionary measures should be taken to avert any untoward incident i.e. match-fixing.

Pink-ball cricket is different business as the batters would have to adjust to the movement of the ball which will be sharper than that of the red cherry. Watching the ball till the end and not committing early would make the difference. Similarly, bowlers would take time to acclimatise to the pink ball and spinners could find going tough to spin it around because of the extra lacquer applied to keep the ball visible under the lights. For pacers though, the swing will last for a longer period.

The reason for delving into the technical aspect is to bring to light the fact that it’s not going to be a cakewalk for either side. With the game evenly poised, Test cricket will produce results as we have seen in the 11 Test matches played under lights so far. However, officials should ensure that in a bid to up the exhilaration level, the game of cricket does not take a backseat. Let’s hope that pink-ball Test matches become a regular affair and redefines Test cricket. Let’s pray that Test cricket doesn’t fall prey to the rising demand of the consumer. Let’s wish that Test cricket does not submit before superficialities.

At the end of the day, the stature of the five-day format should not be left languishing in the dumps as extravagance takes over.

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