As chief of the technical committee, Sourav Ganguly had time and again proposed the idea of playing with the pink ball in domestic cricket so that players are prepared when the time comes to play Day-Night Tests. And life has indeed come full circle because as BCCI President, he has now asked Bangladesh to play a Day-Night Test at the Eden Gardens from November 22-26. And one man who is under the scanner is GM Cricket Operations Saba Karim.
While Ganguly had backed the idea of playing the Duleep Trophy under lights, Karim gave little importance to the plan as the tournament was back to the red-ball format this year. Little would he have known that Ganguly would return as the President of the BCCI.
Speaking to IANS, former treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry -- who was also part of the Ganguly-led technical committee -- said that better planning was the need of the hour and the current scenario could have been avoided had the BCCI staff shown better attitude and not ignored the recommendations of the different committees. But he feels there is still time and Karim must introspect.
"For the last couple of years, the recommendations and decisions of the board and its committees were being willfully ignored. As a result the pink ball was even discontinued for the Duleep trophy this year. This is inexplicable. Moreover, even the team management had earlier requested for more time to get acclimatised with the pink ball. Now you are looking at a scenario where the team is set to play a day-night Test with pink balls when they have not been used even for domestic games due to this attitude of the staff.
"Had they gone with the recommendations of the Sourav led Technical Committee or the earlier decisions of the BCCI, the situation would have been much better. Thankfully our team is virtually invincible and could possibly win you everything even with a tennis ball so this blunder of the Cricket Operations team would go unnoticed. Saba Karim must however introspect. I am also confident that the new office bearers will steer the board back to a state of efficacy from the present state where efficacy and systems were all but absent," he pointed.
In fact, the Duleep Trophy was almost given a miss in the 2017-18 season before Ganguly put his foot down. And all that has seen a scenario that not only do Indian players have little or no experience of playing with the pink ball, but also, there is little stock with the BCCI when it comes to quality SG pink balls.
The BCCI is now in a situation where they could in fact be forced to speak to either Kookaburra or Dukes to provide with quality pink balls as the SG balls used earlier in domestic cricket lost its shape and shine and was almost unusable after a point.
"We are yet to speak to SG about pink balls for Tests. If we do have a word with them, that would mean another 7-10 days before they can deliver us with balls that would be of international quality. If the BCB does agree to play the second Test under lights, we might then have a scenario where we might need to speak to Kookaburra or Dukes," a BCCI functionary told IANS.
Another functionary said that it is almost impossible to provide umpires with substitute balls and that is an area of concern for the BCCI even though the proposal has already been sent to Bangladesh to play the Day-Night Test.
"Had Karim ensured that we had domestic matches under lights, says knockouts of the Ranji Trophy or for that matter the Irani Cup, we would have had enough balls ready. But the whole idea was almost put into the boot of the car. There was no effort made. So now, when we have to provide for close to 48 balls -- to the two teams, the match officials etc -- where do we get them from? How about substitute balls if one ball is hit out of the park after 34 overs? You need a ball of almost same condition. Where do we get them from?
"Also, do the cricketers have enough practice, if you look at the Irani Cup games or the Ranji knockouts in the last couple of seasons, you had quite a few India stars in the line-up of the teams. Wouldn't it have helped if they had a feel of what it feels like to play with the pink ball? Had there been intent and scheduling was done properly, you could have even got the best Indian players playing the Irani Cup," the functionary rued.