Day/night Test cricket arrived at Edgbaston in real style as England piled on the runs on the opening day of the historic inaugural floodlit Test in this country.
After choosing to bat against West Indies, England closed on 348 for three, Alastair Cook and Joe Root having shown that, while cricket evolves and conditions may change, class is permanent. Cook struck an unbeaten 153, his 31st Test century, and Root stroked 136, his 13th, in a partnership of 248 which brought the famous Hollies Stand to full voice as the sun set on a momentous day for both English cricket and for Edgbaston Stadium as the venue hosted its 50th Test match.
The 21,649 crowd loved it as Cook and Root batted with a quality of which the likes of Ted Dexter, Geoff Boycott, David Gower and Michael Vaughan, who took part in a lunchtime parade of great players to have graced Edgbaston in Tests, would have been proud.
The pink ball passed muster, behaving as much as any cricket ball would, both in the first two sessions before the floodlights came on and then after tea when they kicked in. It was, though, a tough day to be a cricket ball though as England’s batsmen hit 53 fours – 45 of them from Cook and Root.
It was a proud day all round for the Bears with Edgbaston again at the forefront of innovation in English cricket. In 1997, Birmingham hosted the first day-night county match in this country when Warwickshire beat Somerset in a 40-over game. That day, 16,000 people saw Anurag Singh and Neil Smith blast the Bears to victory. Twenty years later, it was Cook and Root handing out misery to the bowlers – to the delight of a typically colourful, noisy and good-naturedly boisterous crowd.
Within the historic context of the match, there were also big individual issues at stake, of course, not least the quest to nail down places in England’s top order. And, after England chose to bat, there was disappointment for Mark Stoneman and Tom Westley.
Stoneman’s Test career began with two sparkling boundaries but then he was well and truly welcomed to Test cricket by Kemar Roach who unleashed an unplayable ball which pitched middle and clipped the off-bail. Westley then fell lbw to Miguel Cummins to leave England 39 for two after 7.3 overs.
That was 2.36pm. The next wicket fell at 8.22pm after Cook and Root showed their class by first steadying the innings then advancing steadily, punctuating their technical excellence with sparkling strokeplay. As the sun set on the Second City with the runs and the songs flowing freely on a balmy evening in the West Midlands, no-one with an England or Bears affection could have asked for more.