New Delhi: The BCCI has reacted sharply to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) red-flagging a proposed day-night Test match against the West Indies in October despite positive feedback from national chief coach Ravi Shastri.
The proposed match became a contentious issue after CoA chief Vinod Rai complained of being kept in the dark about the plan. BCCI Acting Secretary Amitabh Chaudhary, CEO Rahul Johri and GM (Cricket Operations) Saba Karim were in touch with Shastri regarding the Test match.
Shastri has told the board that he would ideally like a tier-II team (West Indies) to be hosted in a tier-II city and one session be played under lights to counter the dew factor in early winter.
Rai's angry missive, directed at Chaudhary, for not keeping CoA in the loop has raised eyebrows about the scope and role of the Supreme Court-appointed committee.
When senior officials in the BCCI were asked about Rai's letter, there were mixed responses.
"Mr Rai is correct when he is talking about the process of taking policy decisions. Obviously (BCCI acting president) CK Khanna and (treasurer) Aniruddh Chaudhary should have also been kept in the loop, which Amitabh and Rahul didn't do," a top official told PTI.
"But then Mr Rai has not kept the acting president and treasurer in the loop on many occasions. Suddenly in this letter, he realised that Khanna and Aniruddh have not been kept in the loop," he added.
Rai has said "four people sitting in the cricket centre" can't take policy decisions. Although no names were taken, the four who operate from the board's Mumbai headquarters are Johri, Karim, Chaudhary and IPL COO Hemang Amin.
It has been learnt that Chaudhary, in his defence, wrote back, "Right Sir. Will work on them. In any case, as the contents indicate, the effort was only to impede the fast-disappearing spectator support for Test cricket."
However, there was another official who felt that "if four people are taking decisions, then they must be credible enough to do so and freedom be given to them."
"It was under the CoA that Saba was appointed. Now why Saba's intentions are being indirectly questioned?" he pointed out.
Rai, in his letter, has instructed the BCCI office-bearers to put on hold any plans to conduct a day-night Test match as he is concerned about multiple factors - players' body clock over five days, cost factor of state associations and administrative arrangements among other things.
The former CAG's letter has surprised the board officials, including his comment about how CoA member Diana Edulji has "more cricketing knowledge" than all of them put together.
"Is it because Mr Rai and Diana were not kept in the loop? I have the copy of the letter and it reads as if Mr Rai wanted to ensure that it doesn't look like that he is writing only because Diana is irked. So Khanna and Aniruddh's names have also been included," the official said.
But everyone in the BCCI agreed that Rai's arguments against the match do not hold water as far as cricketing logic is concerned.
"I don't know who advised Mr Rai to write on players' body clock. MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, all their lives, have played day-night one-dayers that start at 2:30 p.m. and end at 10:30 p.m. He messed it up completely," the official said.
"Secondly, when he said Diana knows more cricket than all of you, he probably forgot one of the policy-makers is Saba, who has played 34 ODIs for India and 120 first-class games and was a national selector," he added.
The BCCI has conducted two Duleep Trophy tournaments under lights with the pink ball on an experimental basis in 2016 and 2017. This was to check the possibility of day-night Tests. The only prominent Indian player to have played a pink-ball match was Cheteshwar Pujara.
The basic feedback from players was that post 8:30 p.m., the ball becomes wet and bowlers find it difficult to grip it.