In Australia, administrators have ignored apprehensions about the pink ball and gone ahead to host the first ever day-night Test being contested by Australia and New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval.
In India, the story is sickeningly different where Test match cricket, the greatest test of a player’s skill and temperament, is kicked in the gut as the India vs South Africa Test in Nagpur, as predicted on Day One itself, ended inside three days.
The Nagpur pitch rolled out for the third India vs South Africa Test was a disgrace and all criticism of it is justified. Of course, the Indian camp, led by man of the match Ravichandran Ashwin does not believe there is merit in the criticism. Ashwin is sent to address the media so often that he will soon be known as the team spokesperson. On a more serious note, players from both camps need to be encouraged to be more candid while talking about pitches.
Ashwin defending the pitches at Mohali and Nagpur made cricket lovers question his sense of fair play and intelligence. On Wednesday, he went to the extent of bringing up how the Johannesburg Test wicket in 2013 was so flat that he got dropped for a year after that — childishness of the highest order.
A Test match is meant to be played over five days. Sure, not all Tests will end up going the distance, but pitches for the India vs South Africa series have shown that they have been designed to last only three days. Sure, the hosts enjoy the right to prepare tracks as per their strength, but things can’t be so loaded in favour of the home team. It can also backfire on the hosts as Alastair Cook’s Englishmen proved in the 2012-13 series on Indian soil, where their spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, helped England rally from one-down in the series to beat India at home.
India have won this series, but any talk of this victory will be followed with the view that it was achieved on designer tracks. Oh yes, there is the fourth Test to be played in Delhi, potentially another three-day Test venue.