HYDERABAD: Much before the first-ever day-night Test that got underway at Adelaide between Australia-New Zealand, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), too, experimented by conducting the Ranji Trophy final way back in 1996-97 season. It was played between Mumbai and Delhi from April 5 to 9 at Gwalior in which the former won in a high-scoring final.
It was a one-match affair as the BCCI did not continue with that experiment from the following year as players expressed their reservations. It was played with white Kookabura balls. “It was unique in many ways. It was a bold experiment,’’ said VK Ramaswamy, who umpired that match along with Subroto Porel. The match referee was the late ML Jaisimha.
Ramaswamy continued his recollections: “We had been playing the one-day matches but to play five-day final under lights was a totally different experience. The BCCI had set playing conditions and one of them was to change the ball every 50 overs. It was not because of any wear or tear but since it was a white ball, there was every chance of losing its colour. We had tea at 4.30 pm and ‘lunch’ at 7.30 pm. Unlike the Test at Adelaide, where the players wore white clothings, the players wore coloured dress because of the white ball, ’’ said the 70-year-old .
Ramaswamy admitted they had a few nervous moments. “We had a little difficulty in spotting the ball. It was a high-scoring match. However, we were troubled by insects in the night and play was stopped to fumigate the insects,’’ he pointed out.
In a history of sorts, Sundaram Ravi became the first umpire along with Richard Illingworth to officiate in a day/night Test match. Incidentally, Ramaswamy and Piloo Reporter were the first neutral umpires in Tests.