The Cricketer
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IS DAY-NIGHT TEST CRICKET SUITED TO ENGLISH CONDITIONS?

Edgbaston will host the first day-night Test on English soil

The first of England’s three-match series against West Indies will see Edgbaston host a historic day-night Test, the first on English soil.

Edgbaston announced that in the first two days of release, ticket sales were up 400 per cent compared to last year’s Pakistan Test.

Furthermore, it has been noted that over 40 percent of tickets have been purchased by people who have never before attended Test cricket. If the main thrust behind the concept is to attract a new audience, on that evidence it can be deemed a success.

The format has been trialled with success in Australia (at Adelaide and the Gabba) with both impressive crowd attendances and television ratings. Over three million viewers tuned in to watch the final session of Australia v New Zealand at Adelaide in November 2015. Over 124,000 were in attendance across the three days of cricket played.

The experiment in UAE (Dubai) was far less successful with a paltry 68 in attendance for the first session of the Pakistan v West Indies Test in October 2016. Crowds peaked at 2,400 with an estimated 6,000 making it into the ground across the Test meaning a very meagre handful witnessed Azhar Ali's triple-hundred.

The pink Dukes ball had a showing on June 26 with a full round of County Championship matches being played under lights.

But is day-night cricket suited to the Great British summer? We asked Sky Sports pundits Michael Atherton, Ian Botham, Nasser Hussain and David Lloyd for their thoughts...

Nasser Hussain

“I’m less convinced, I have to be perfectly honest. I’m old school, but give everything a go, don’t just say no because we’ve never done it before.

“We do some T20 games [for Sky] and it is freezing down in that pod at 10 o’clock at night. We’re lucky, we’re well looked after. When you're out there raw in a stand, I think it could take some watching.

“Edgbaston is a good venue, we’ve done T20 finals day there and they put on a good show.

“It’s good for the game (changing conditions) that it doesn’t become so formulaic. Conditions change throughout the course of a game anyway. Give it a go.”

The day-night Test in Dubai had limited success

Ian Botham

“If you’re going to play a Test match it should be on an even playing field, and it’s not when you play day-night games. I don’t care where you are, Adelaide is one of the driest cities in the world but as soon as it gets dark the ball starts doing all sorts. That’s not what cricket is about and I don’t get it, I really don’t get it.

“We have full houses here for the first three, four days, so why do we want to change that? We want to the best in the world, but you could have two nights where you’re batting in a five-day game, and you get rolled over for 140-160 because the ball is going all over the place.”

Mike Atherton

“The rationale originally for day-night Test cricket was obviously for places that were struggling to sell cricket. I sat on the MCC committee that pushed hard for day-night Test cricket. I always envisaged it at Bridgetown for example. Somewhere where sales are not good for Test cricket. And I think crucially that the ground is in a city or town where the working man and woman can walk up for two hours and watch the final session on a warm, pleasant evening, where it gets dark early. You wouldn’t say those conditions pertain to England.”

David Lloyd

“You’re almost going back to uncovered pitches where you'd declare seven down and take advantage of what was around. Tactically, captains will have to be on top of their game. Declarations are unheard of really in Test cricket, we might see some in day-night matches.”

Sky Sports’ biggest ever summer of sport includes live coverage of The ICC Champion’s Trophy, Test series against South Africa and the West Indies, the British & Irish Lions tour, The Open and Formula 1.