Cricket is played in three formats. One of which is Test Cricket. It is the longest format of cricket and is played for five days. It is considered to be the highest standard format of the game. The red ball is used for conventional test matches while for day-night test matches pink ball is used.
Test cricket is the toughest format of cricket. It is the real test of a player’s skills, ability, temperament, and knowledge of the game. This format tests the player physically as well as mentally and hence termed as ‘ Test Cricket ‘.
Today, the test matches are played for five days consecutively. While in the early days, test matches were usually of three or four days. The Timeless test matches were also played in the past which were extended up to six or seven days until the result was not obtained.
Cricket rules and regulations differ slightly for Test, ODI, and T20I. Being the longest format, the rules of test cricket are also broader in nature.
1. Session Timings and Break Intervals
According to rules, 90 overs must be bowled in a single day. A standard day of Test cricket consists of three sessions of two hours each. Means the total gameplay is of 6 hours and between the sessions the break of 40 minutes for lunch and 20 minutes for tea is taken.
However these session timings and break intervals are flexible under certain circumstances.
Whenever the bad weather or change of innings occurs close to the scheduled break, the break is taken immediately.
Due to bad weather, the loss of playing time can be adjusted within the sessions and break intervals.
Whenever the batting team’s 9 wickets are down, the session may be extended up to 30 minutes or till the fall of the last wicket.
The umpires can extend the last session by 30 minutes if they believe the result can be found.
2. Gameplay rules of test cricket
In a test match, there are four innings. Each team gets a chance of batting and bowling for two innings. The team winning the toss chooses to bat or bowl first.
Suppose team A chooses to bat first. Then team A will bat for 1st and 3rd innings while team B will bat in 2nd and 4th innings (except in case of follow-on). At the end of 4th innings, the team having the most runs by adding the total of both innings becomes the winner.
3.Trial and Lead
Lead indicates the difference between runs among teams by which the higher scoring team is ahead of the opposition team. While the trial is just the opposite of lead. The trial indicates the difference between runs a batting team is behind the leading team.
Suppose after the end of two innings, team A has scored ‘x’ runs more than team B then team A is said to be leading by ‘x’ runs while team B has a trial/deficit of ‘x’ runs.
4. Test cricket follow-on rules
Follow-on means one team will be batting consecutively for two innings. Consider after the 1st innings of team B, if team A is leading by at least 200 runs, then the captain of team A may enforce the team B to bat again.
For a five day test, the necessary condition of enforcing follow-on is a lead of 200 runs or more. But if the play of the first day is lost due to bad weather, then the follow-on can be enforced with a lead of 150 runs or more. For a three day test match, this lead is further reduced to 100 runs.
When the batting team captain feels that they have scored enough runs and is sufficient to all-out the opposition under that total, then he can call the end of their innings.
6. New Ball
The bowling team is allowed to take the new ball after bowling 80 overs. But if the pitch is helping the spinners and the captain wants to continue with his spinners, then he can delay taking the new ball and can continue with the old ball.
Because the roughened, softer surface of old ball is more helpful for spinners while the harder new ball is helpful for pacers to produce swing and variable bounce. When the new ball is taken, another new ball will be available after bowling further 80 overs.
7. Over Limit
Usually, in a standard day of a test match, 90 overs need to be bowled. Means 15 overs per hour should be bowled except on the last day where the play is of minimum 75 overs only.
The number of overs bowled in a day can be increase or decrease in case of loss of time and bad weather respectively. In case, the batting teams get all-out or declares their innings then usually two overs are deducted from the total overs of the day.
8. Result of the test match
When five days of the game are over and still the 4th innings is not finished or the batting team in 4th innings is not able to achieve the target then the result of the match is a draw. None of the team is able to win the match and it doesn’t matters which team was more dominant in the game.
Winning by runs:
When the team batting in 4th innings is bowled out (all-out) before achieving their target, then the bowling side becomes the winning side and wins by a number of runs (less scored by the losing side).
Winning by wickets:
If the team batting in 4th innings, successfully chase down the target, they become the winners and said to be win by number of wickets left.
Winning by an innings and runs :
This type of win is possible when the team has enforced the follow-on on the opposite team. If the opposite team becomes allout and their total runs of two innings are still less than the total runs in an inning of other team, then the team who had enforced the follow-on becomes the winners. And are said to be win by an innings and runs (less scored by opposite team).
Match Tied :
Very rarely the scores can end level. In over 2000 matches played, it has happened only twice.
9. Decision Review System
The DRS was first introduced by ICC in 2009 during the test match between New Zealand and Pakistan. According to the rules of test cricket, each team gets two reviews per innings. The review is retained if the decision is umpire’s call.
In 2013, ICC announced that the reviews available for the team will be reset to two after every 80 overs. But later in 2017, changing the rules of test cricket ICC removed the top-up of reviews after 80 overs and agreed upon giving two reviews per innings.
10. Some other Rules of test cricket
There are no fielding restrictions in test cricket like that in ODI or T20I. Captain can set the aggressive field or open the field anytime.
The rules of test cricket are not strict for a wide ball. Even the ball down the leg side is not a wide ball in test cricket.
There is no restriction on the number of overs per bowler. Any bowler can bowl till he is not exhausted.