Edgbaston to make history in day-night Test

October 18, 2016

This week has seen the UAE hosting only the second ever day-night Test match, as Pakistan took on the West Indies in Dubai, but next summer will see Edgbaston hosting the first such game in England.

West Indies will also be playing in that game, with the Test taking place from August 17th-21st 2017.

It means fans booking corporate hospitality packages will be able to watch a game that begins in mid-afternoon, with two half-hour breaks instead of the traditional lunch and tea intervals, with play taking place under floodlights when night falls.

The idea of day-night Test cricket arose from the advent of day-night limited overs games, which had been pioneered in Australia with a white ball and coloured clothing. This was copied around the world and is now the norm in England.

Many matches used to be played in June, when the light evenings were not ideal for day-nighters. Now, however, one-day games tend to be played towards the end of the season in August and September, offering more chances for spectators to experience dark nights when the floodlights really kick in. The sunset in Birmingham on August 17th next year will take place at 8:28 pm, with the shortening evenings meaning the sunset on August 21st is at 8:20.

Administrators have been open to the principle of day-night Tests, but resistant to the idea of coloured clothing and white balls in such matches. This led to various other colours being tried. Eventually, a bright crimson shade of pink was settled on, with the first game in the new format attracting huge crowds at the Adelaide Oval last year as Australia took on New Zealand in a thrilling match that the home side won by three wickets. With the scores all around the 200-220 mark, it was a low-scoring affair, particularly by Adelaide standards, but it was a match that captured the imagination and one of the Ashes Tests on England's visit a year from now will also be a day-nighter, as will next month's Adelaide Test when South Africa visit.

The match in Dubai was also an epic, although it seemed Pakistan were completely invulnerable as they racked up 579-3 in their first innings. However, they declared on that score, with Azhar Ali having reached 302 not out. On a flat pitch, West Indies battled to 357. Pakistan decided not to enforce the follow-on but crumbled to 123 not out as legspinner Devendra Bishoo took 8-49, his best Test figures. Set 346 to win, which would have been their third-highest successful chase in a Test, the visitors ultimately fell 56 runs short, despite a century from Dwayne Bravo.

Crowds in Dubai were disappointing, in contrast with the bumper Adelaide attendance. But with Edgbaston Tests always drawing large and lively support, next year's big event will be one for which tickets will sell like hot cakes.

Edgbaston has already had a lot of history when it comes to England v West Indies Tests, from Peter May and Colin Cowdrey's stand of 411 in 1957 to the first Test of the 1984 whitewash by Clive Lloyd's all-conquering team and Freddie Flintoff's Test-best 167 in 2004. Now Edgbaston is set to make history yet again.

By Sam Coates

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