Edgbaston has always been in the vanguard of floodlit cricket and continues to be with news that next year the stadium will host the first day-night Test match ever staged in England – the first Investec Test against West Indies from Thursday August 17th to Monday 21st.

Brian Halford reports on how the Bears have long lit the way for cricket under lights.

At ten past six on the evening of Wednesday July 23, 1997, Somerset all-rounder Graham Rose ran in to bowl to Anurag Singh and a new era was launched for Warwickshire and Edgbaston – and, indeed, for English cricket.

The match was the first senior limited-overs game to be staged under floodlights in England – and it was a roaring success.

On a balmy evening blessed by lovely weather a crowd of 15,174, more than double the expected number, watched the Bears win by 35 runs. The bumper crowd meant that, even after paying for the hire of the floodlights, the club made £70,000 profit on the night.

That weather was a blessing – and one which was denied to Surrey a month earlier when The Oval was due to host the first floodlit match, against Nottinghamshire, only for torrential rain to wash the match out entirely. The only legacy left by the lights on that occasion was the mess of tyre-marks on the Oval outfield from lorries which carried away pylons which had been erected in vain around the field.

Four weeks later at Edgbaston, everything went perfectly to script as Singh (86), captain Neil Smith (59) and Dominic Ostler (42) lifted Warwickshire to 224 for five from their 40 overs. Somerset then declined to 99 for seven before finally being dismissed for 189 when Kevin Shine was bowled by Allan Donald at 11.38pm. A rather late finish, perhaps, and a few of the 15,174 had drifted off home by then, but most remained to witness the full historic occasion

That occasion provided the ideal start to the floodlit era and other counties, monitoring closely from afar, liked what they saw. It also fully vindicated the vision of Warwickshire chief executive Dennis Amiss who had spotted the potential of floodlit cricket early on and persistently argued its case against those less inclined to move with the times. Amiss, as he had been when he pioneered batting helmets, was ahead of his time.

The following year, 1998, the Bears played four one-day games under lights at Edgbaston. In ’99, most of the 18 counties staged at least one day-nighter. It was only a matter of time before international cricket embraced the concept.

The first floodlit ODI in England arrived on July 6, 2000, in Bristol where a West Indies side including Brian Lara and Chris Gayle lost to Zimbabwe by six wickets. That was the opening match of the NatWest Series which also featured England – and 12 days later Edgbaston hosted its first day-nighter when England faced Zimbabwe.

As so often over the years, Birmingham seemed to bring the best out of England. They won comfortably thanks to Alex Stewart’s century and nifty bowling from Craig White, Graeme Hick and Andrew Caddick, who shared six wickets.

The following year, Pakistan provided the opposition under the Edgbaston lights. Nick Knight top-scored for England, a crowd of 19,223 generated receipts of £421,961 and Paul Collingwood played the first of his 197 ODIs. Day-nighters, international and domestic, have been alluring ingredients of the Edgbaston summers ever since.

Now a new chapter awaits next August with a floodlit Test. Lights….camera….action….


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