England’s first meeting with the West Indies today is the first international day-night Test ever to be held in the country. Here’s what you need to know:
Primarily, the times and the balls.
Proceedings start at 2pm for a 9pm finish, potentially going onto 9.30 if there are delays in play earlier in the day.
Meanwhile the red ball, a permanent fixture in Test cricket’s 140-year-old history, will be replaced by a pink iteration that will be more visible against the night sky but won’t clash with the traditional Test clothing as the white-ball used in one-day and Twenty20 would.
Two o’clock start? So when’s lunch?
Eat a late breakfast. Lunch is at 4pm for 40 minutes, while tea comes at 6.40pm for twenty minutes.
Breaks at Edgbaston will be in the same order as in traditional Test matches, a divergence from day-night Tests in Australia where a longer “dinner” break has come later.
So how many day-night Tests have there been?
This will be the fifth. The first came in 2015 between Australia and New Zealand in Adelaide. In 2016 three were staged in Dubai, between Pakistan and the West Indies, Adelaide and Brisbane.
What prompted the change?
Although relatively healthy in England, Test attendances have dwindled around the world in recent years. Last year India and Australia struggled to draw crowds in excess of 10,000 for Tests against England and South Africa respectively.
The idea behind playing later is that fans can arrive after work or book off just a half-day in order to catch the entirety of the action.
Has it been a success?
So far. Australia’s first attempt attracted a record gate for a non-Ashes match at the ground. Ticket sales have been similarly encouraging at Edgbaston, which is nearing a sell-out across the first three days.
Day-night games in the County Championship have been less successful, with little uplift seen in crowds sizes during the first-ever round of day-night fixtures in June.
So, is this future of Test cricket?
Day-night Tests could well become a more familiar fixture in England’s cricket calendar, but don’t expect a full-blown revolution just yet. Late finishes in next summer’s Tests against India and Pakistan would likely dampen TV audiences in those countries, where matches would finish in the dead of night.
Should it become part of England’s schedule, expect more pink-ball games to be scheduled in County cricket in order to give players more experience in the format.