Stuart Broad admitted earlier this week that this historic first day-night Test in the UK would be a “step into the unknown”. Well, we know a little bit more after the opening day at a packed out Edgbaston and the conclusions were rather a mixed bag.
What cannot be denied is that there was a fantastic atmosphere here in Birmingham, especially when the floodlights came on after tea. The match itself, though, is panning out to be as one-sided as most had feared before this series began, with proving England proving they are a class above the West Indies in Test cricket.
There were grumbles, too, about the pink ball, with those watching back home on TV complaining they could not see it in daylight during the first two sessions even if it appeared to stand out like a beacon if you were actually in attendance at the ground.
The touring attack might have added to those grumbles as well, with the initial early assistance that brought them the early wickets of debutant Mark Stoneman and Tom Westley evaporating quickly and Alastair Cook and Joe Root cashing in spectacularly during their mammoth stand.
This is only the fifth day-night Test. The three in Australia over the past two winters were a roaring success, with punters packing into Adelaide twice and then Brisbane. Yet the Pakistan v West Indies pink-ball match in Dubai last October was rather less well received unfolding as it did in front of an empty stadium.
In Birmingham, we were witness to a sold out Edgbaston. The fact that, according to Warwickshire’s database, 40 per cent of the tickets sold were to people who had not attended a Test at the ground before was encouraging given the main aim of this new concept is to attract a new audience to sport’s oldest format.
But it appears unlikely we will see another day-night Test in this country anytime soon. The England & Wales Cricket Board have privately admitted that with Pakistan and India next year’s tourists, the timings just wouldn’t work with TV audiences in Asia.
Would a day-night Ashes Test when Australia tour here again in 2019 be feasible? Possibly. However, even then that might be a long shot depending on the conclusions the ECB draw from this match.
What is not in doubt is that England will be pleased with how they have done so far in pink-ball cricket, especially as the winter will see them take on Australia in the first day-night Ashes Test at Adelaide in early December.
Fans attending this match, though, might take more time to adapt. Walking around the concourse of this famous old ground this correspondent was struck about how worse for wear some punters were by the second interval at 6.40pm. For some the challenge seemed like trying to fit three sessions drinking into two. No wonder then that many had left the ground well before the close.
England’s dominance may have played a part in that as well. After all, for a concept to work the product needs to captivate its audience.
Sadly, that was the one area where the first day of this match disappointed.