Edgbaston day-night Test - the first of many?

August 16, 2017

Tomorrow (August 17th) will see Edgbaston becoming the focus of the cricketing world as the first ever day-night Test match in England takes place. 

England will take on the West Indies under lights as the darkening August skies provide a new experience for the players with a pink ball in an English Test.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Warwickshire Chief Executive Neil Snowball explained how a conversation with England's director of cricket Andrew Strauss led to the venue making history. 

Straus was hoping England's first day-night Test would not be in a crucial Ashes match and with a pink ball encounter lined up at Adelaide in December, a conversation with Mr Snowball led to plans being laid to stage the historic game at Edgbaston. 

Mr Snowball explained: "We were cautious to start with - I'll be honest - because we've done 49 Tests and we sell Test cricket very well.

"But then the more we looked at, we thought: 'Well, actually, we are innovative, it will be a first and it should be good for Edgbaston.'

"Strauss and I sat in here at Edgbaston having a cup of tea watching the cricket last summer and decided, 'should we go for it or not?' We said, 'yes, let's do it'. I'm delighted that we have."

With tickets nearly sold out for the first three days and around 40 per cent of buyers being identified as individuals who have not purchased an Edgbaston Test ticket before, it seems that a new audience may be reached. 

This means that, if the game is a success on the field, it is possible that Edgbaston will become a regular host of day-night Tests, just as Adelaide has.

Before the game, much of the debate has been about the ball itself. The day-night Tests played up to now have been played in Australia and the UAE with a Kookaburra ball, and the Dukes version used in England has drawn some interesting observations.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live this week, former England player Paul Collingwood, who captains Durham, said the balls would swing wildly early on and then go very soft, with players describing the sound and feel as being "like plastic".

However, even if the balls do prove problematic, this may not be an impediment to further day-night Tests with a pink Dukes ball. The pink Kookaburra was refined after the first ever day-night Test at Adelaide in 2015, so a similar revision may come as no surprise.

Speaking on the same show as Collingwood, former West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose said he was not optimistic about the chances of the Caribbean side on the field. 

A selection policy of only picking players available for all domestic first-class games has meant those appearing in the Indian Premier League - such as Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle - have been left out. 

"As a realist, I am not sure we will compete", he warned.

However, the final tour match before the Test against an understrength Derbyshire XI under lights saw several batsmen find form, with centuries for brothers Kyle and Shai Hope, Roston Chase and Keiran Powell.

The Edgbaston Test will be followed by further clashes at Headingley and Lord's.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription

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