London: A revamp of the traditional format of cricket has been a subject of discussion for a while and now it has been announced that Edgbaston will host the first day/night Test ever staged in the United Kingdom when England face the West Indies in Birmingham in August next year, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced Wednesday.
England are now in line to become the third nation to stage a five-day Test under floodlights, following Australia`s day/night Test against New Zealand in Adelaide last year and with Pakistan due to play the West Indies in a day/night Test in the United Arab Emirates next week.
A pink ball will be used, with players wearing traditional whites rather than coloured clothing. (READ: No need for pink ball to bring spectators: Virender Sehwag)
The aim, as with all floodlit matches, is to encourage those who are at work during the day to attend.
Subject to confirmation from the International Cricket Council (ICC), the August 17-21 match between England and the West Indies, the first of a three-Test series, will have playing hours of 2:00pm-9:00pm local (1300-2000 GMT), rather than the English standard Test times of 11:00am-6:00pm (1000-1700 GMT).
Test matches in England, unlike many countries, are generally well supported and there are concerns the English climate may not be conducive to spectators sitting out to watch for several hours late in the day.
Given that the English cricket season also coincides with the UK`s longest daylight hours, questions have also been raised about whether there`s much to be gained from having a floodlit Test in the country. But ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said in a board statement issued Thursday: "We`re excited by the prospect of staging our first ever day/night Test match.
"It`s a great opportunity to attract more fans to the game and see how staging Test cricket in the afternoon and evening fits with working patterns and modern lifestyles, whilst maintaining the deep tradition of Test match cricket.
"We think it can help attract different fans and families to Test cricket and the innovation will certainly put the five-day game under the spotlight in a very busy summer for the game."
He added: "A number of Test nations are looking at day/night Tests as a way of building further interest in our most traditional format. We`re glad to be supporting that and adding to the understanding of how this might develop in different countries.
"Our partners can also see the clear opportunity and have been supportive as we build towards this big occasion next August
Warwickshire chief executive Neil Snowball added: "Edgbaston staged the UK`s first day/night domestic match in 1997 and has a great history of hosting and selling out some of the biggest fixtures in the game.
"In turn, the Edgbaston atmosphere and match day experience has become iconic, with England having a fantastic record of victories here.
"Marking our 50th Test anniversary with a game of this magnitude will be a great occasion."
Thursday`s announcement follows a successful pink ball trial match between Warwickshire and Worcestershire`s 2nd XIs at Edgbaston in August and previous use of a pink ball in the traditional English season curtain-raiser between MCC and the champion county. (READ: Test players must provide excitement, says Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli)
Next August`s match will also mean England have experience of a day/night Test should at least one of the fixtures in the 2017/18 Ashes in Australia be staged under lights.
In order to help the West Indies prepare, their three-day tour game against Derbyshire in Derby from August 11-13 will be played under floodlights with a pink ball.