It's going to be strange turning on the television at 8pm over the next few days and seeing a Test match in full swing.
England host West Indies at Edgbaston in the first day-night Test to be held in this country; it’s something new, something different and it will be very interesting to see how successful it is.
As a bowler, I’m intrigued to learn how the pink ball reacts and also how the teams deal with certain tactical issues which arise during the match where the later start time and playing under floodlights are likely to be factors.
Seeing how the concept is received by the crowd at the game and the TV audience will be exciting. With a similar clash in Adelaide scheduled for this winter’s Ashes series, day-night Test cricket looks to be the future.
The longer form of the game has died in some areas of the world and needs spicing up. This could well be the answer. Let’s see. Turning to the three-match series itself, I cannot really make a case for West Indies, who have lost six consecutive Test series, in English conditions. I expect Joe Root’s side to romp to a convincing victory.
It’s a big series for Test rookies Mark Stoneman, who is set to make his England debut today, and Mason Crane and also the likes of Tom Westley and Dawid Malan as they bid to nail down their positions ahead of the Ashes. It is also a potentially poignant series for Nottinghamshire seamer Stuart Broad, who is just four wickets shy of Sir Ian Botham’s tally of 383 Test wickets.
Once that milestone is achieved, England will have the nation’s No1 and No2 all-time leading wicket-takers in the same team for the first time in 54 years and that is testament to the quality of both Broad and new-ball partner James Anderson.
In English conditions and with the Dukes ball, there is no better pairing. They complement each other really well and I know that Broad has learnt a lot of skills – leg-cutters, off-cutters and scrambled seam deliveries – from Jimmy over the years.
Broad isn’t the biggest spearhead England have ever had; he’s not a Darren Gough-type for instance – someone with a strike rate of 51.6 – but he is very consistent.
He gets the occasional five-for but when he’s not doing that he’ll chip in with twos and threes, often mopping up the final few wickets of an opponent’s innings.
There will be occasions when he is 0-40 off 20 overs and done his job, then all of a sudden he will snare three quick wickets, like he did in South Africa’s first innings in the fourth Test at Old Trafford earlier this month. He’s not the quickest but hits his areas and puts his hand up in difficult match situations.
It often goes unnoticed but Broad tends to get 50-60 Tests wicket every year, goes at under three runs an over and just does his job for the team. His record speaks for itself.
To be closing in on 400 Test wickets is a great achievement. He and Anderson have taken 720 wickets between them in games they have played together. They are so impressive and I can see that total going beyond 1000 in the next few years.