The Test Match in Cricket | A Short Guide

This short guide will explain everything about what is a cricket test match. Read on for more information.

Test match in cricket is known as a long-format match. The players are needed extreme skills to play this format of cricket. It is one of the oldest formats of cricket. It is the one that attracts the so-called purists. Based on the original rules, this is simply the first-class format played internationally. From the days of 1870, cricket test matches have grown from the original two participating countries to include others, too, with test status from across the world.

Cricket test match:

Cricket Test matches are played between 2 teams, and naturally, 5 days are scheduled for the duration of the matches. Only the teams with official test entitlement can play. Each of the sides involved gets to face 2 innings each. The basic target is to score as many runs as they can. Unlike ODI Cricket and T-20 games, there is no limit on those innings. Batting teams have 10 wickets to play with, and their innings will end only when all the batters have been dismissed. However, it is possible to declare the innings at any time if the batting side’ captain feels they have enough runs to dominate a result.

The basic aim for both teams is to score runs more than the other side has done. But this is another area where test cricket is different from the other two limited-overs formats. According to the Test cricket rules, if the last batting side overtakes the total of the opposition without losing their 10 wickets, they will win the game. They will win if the other side takes down all those wickets before the target is reached. Now the twist is, if the total is not reached and there are wickets still intact when the play ends, the match is considered a draw.

Structure of Test Cricket:

The Toss

Before the start of a match, there will be a coin toss to determine which side bats first and which bowls. This toss will happen in the presence of both the umpires and the match referee. The home team captain will traditionally toss the coin, and the other skipper will call whether it is heads or tails.


Each day of a cricket test match is split into 3 sessions – morning, afternoon, and evening. Each of those sessions is fixed to last 2 hours approximately.

Overs and the New Ball

Every day 90 overs are scheduled, and if those overs are not finished by the cut-off point at a close, the match will run if weather conditions allow. If any unpredicted weather or rain forces the players to leave the field at any stage. The match umpires will look to make an early start on the next day to recover the lost overs.

At the start of the test match, the fielding team will be given a new red ball which will be carried for the first 80-over. At the end of those 80 overs, the bowling team can elect to take a new one.


There are 2 scheduled formal breaks for lunch and tea. Following the morning session, there will be a lunch break of 40 minutes. Then tea will take 20 minutes after the end of the afternoon session. When the evening session ends, the close of the match will be called. In addition, there will be an innings break, too, when each innings ends. It will remain for 10 minutes only.

Decision Review System

The 2 umpires are the judges of the match, but, in modern days, the umpires get some technical assistance from outside the field. In 2011, the Decision Review System was introduced so that both teams could challenge decisions related to the LBW or Caught Behind dismissals. Each side will usually have the right to use 2 reviews for each inning. However, this is a new part of the cricket laws, which has been constantly updated. So, this position may change later.

Few more:

In the modern day, there have been purposes when 4-day test matches have been played. These will naturally happen when a strong team plays against the weaker sides. Most cricket test matches have 5 days available. However, a new rule has been introduced to the Test format. The new twist is about a choice for the leading side’s skipper after the 1st innings of the match to enforce the side batting second in the 1st innings to continue batting.

Finale words:

However, in the cricket test matches, wins are declared when the side batting last either reaches their opponents’ score or loses all their 2nd innings wickets before reaching that target.

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