Types of Cricket

Test Cricket

Test cricket is the highest level of cricket competition. Test matches are played between the ten official Test nations: The West Indies Test side is a geographically based confederation which includes the member countries: Jamaica; Barbados; Guyana; Trinidad and Tobago; Antigua and Barbuda; St. Kitt's-Nevis; Dominica; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Anguilla; Montserrat; and Grenada. (Each country by itself has too small a population to field a competitive Test side.)

Nations attain Test status by applying to the International Cricket Council. The ICC makes the decision based on the applying nation's performance in matches against fellow Associate Members of the ICC and against Test match nations, as well as the level of organisation of cricket and the existence of development programs for the sport within the applying nation.

The word "Test" originated with the notion that sports matches played between national representative teams were the ultimate test of sporting ability. International matches in several other sports are also referred to as "Tests", notably in rugby union, rugby league, netball, and field hockey (generally sports popular within the Commonwealth of Nations).

Organisation of a Test Match

A Test match is a game of two innings for each side, played over five days, of six hours play each. Each day of play consists of: Additionally, the players take a 10-minute interval at the change of an innings, unless the innings ends within ten minutes of a scheduled interval or the end of play, in which case the scheduled interval will include the 10 minutes between innings. All players and umpires leave the field during these intervals. Players also take a short break for drinks once during each session, or more frequently if required in hot weather. The players remain on the field during drinks breaks.

Scheduled intervals begin at the end of the over in progress when the scheduled time arrives.

Currently, Test matches are played over five consecutive days, but they have in the recent past occasionally included a rest day after the third or fourth day of play. Historically, Tests have been scheduled for variable numbers of days, from as few as three days of play to "timeless" matches in which there is no limit to the number of days of play.

Test matches are currently not played under artificial light. Playing hours are scheduled for daylight only. If a ground has floodlights, they may be used to augment the natural light on gloomy days, depending on local playing conditions.

Minimum Number of Overs

On each day of play, the fielding side/s must together bowl a minimum of 90 overs. If the scheduled end of play occurs before 90 overs are bowled on a given day, play is extended until 90 overs are completed. If 90 overs have been completed before the scheduled end of play, play ends at the end of the over in progress when the scheduled end of play occurs.

For each four minutes, or part thereof, of time lost due to unscheduled intervals (including change of innings and inclement weather conditions) in the day, the minimum of 90 overs is reduced by one over.

Extra Detail: Last Hour of Play

On the last day of play, a minimum of 75 overs must be bowled before the last hour of play begins. If the time one hour before the scheduled end of play arrives without 75 overs having been bowled, the last hour of play does not begin until after 75 overs have been completed.

Once the last hour of play begins, a further 15 overs must be bowled. Play actually ends either:

whichever comes later.

Extra Detail: Extended Play and Early Finish

Test Series

Test matches are played in distinct series between two nations. Historically, series consisted of from one to six matches, but currently series of two to four matches are most common, with occasional five-match series.

Each series is played in isolation as a contest between the two nations. Some pairs of nations contest a perpetual trophy between them.

Every match in a scheduled series is played, even if one side gains an unbeatable lead in the series.

Recently the International Cricket Council (ICC) instituted an official World Test Championship table, which uses the results of home and away series between pairs of nations to calculate relative rankings. This is, however, merely an add-on feature to the series structure, and is seen by many as artificial.

Traditional rival pairs, such as England and Australia, play two series, one in each country, every four years. Lesser pairings play series at more irregular intervals. The ICC is in the process of instituting a compulsory rotation system in which each pair of nations plays home and away series at least once per five years.

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Last updated: Thursday, 16 February, 2006; 01:22:04 PST.
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