For a team that has always made a virtue of its unparalleled attention to detail, the first ever day-night Test match in England will pose new and unfamiliar problems. Playing five-day cricket under lights, with a pink ball, is a "step into the unknown", as Stuart Broad put it on Monday.

But the overwhelming sentiment in the England dressing room is that something larger is at stake here.

England held their first ever pink-ball practice session under the Edgbaston floodlights on Monday night. It will also be their last - at least, before the first Investec Test begins on Thursday. It is hard to recall a modern-day England side going into battle with so little preparation, so little idea of what to expect, taking such a leap of faith.

Broad admitted that his experience of the pink Duke ball stretched to a single delivery in a Sky television demonstration at Chelmsford. "I don't know what to expect. We're going to have to be so adaptable on the day, and figure out what's going on."


This is the fifth ever day-night Test, but the first to be played with a Duke. A trial round of day-night County Championship games was scheduled in June, with mixed results. Not all of the current England squad played in those matches, and of those who did, only Alastair Cook and James Anderson enjoyed significant time in the middle.

Jonny Bairstow saw the last two days of Yorkshire's game against Surrey washed out before he could have a bat. "I just watched [Kumar] Sangakkara smash it for 180," he said. "It [the pink ball] does go pretty soft quickly. It's going to be fascinating to see how it will react after 60, 70, 80 overs - whether it's going to reverse or swing conventionally. It's going to be a learning curve."

Broad said he had been trying to learn as much about the behaviour of the pink ball as possible. "I've tried to speak to a few people," he said. "The Australian guys I know say that in the twilight period, the pink Kookaburra nips around. But in the county round, the guys said the ball went quite soft, quite quickly. It didn't shine up very well at all. It's given bounce for the spinners, but not really turned." Some players have complained about sighting the pink ball against a green outfield. Colour-blind players like Gary Ballance have been trying out special contact lenses in an attempt to help them see it better. "That's part and parcel of it," Bairstow said. "When you are standing in the slips with the crowd behind, you have to pick the ball out of a multi-coloured background wherever you are on the field."

There are other implications to consider. Intervals, for instance. Unlike in other parts of the world, the 40-minute "lunch" break will be taken after the first session, rather than the second, potentially playing havoc with players' energy requirements. Bowlers may be required to bowl well into the night having not eaten properly since late afternoon.

"You have the lunch break at 4pm until 4.40pm," Broad said. "That's the last decent bit of food you'll get until the close of play. So it'll be about managing energy levels. It would make sense to have the longer break later on. We'll have to get our fuel right."

The colder evening weather offers a greater risk of muscle strains and twanged hamstrings, as Usain Bolt discovered to his cost on Saturday night.

Sleep patterns may also require some adjustment. Cricketers are creatures of habit, and so returning to the hotel late at night, with the adrenalin still flowing, is not exactly conducive to a sound night's rest. "It's still the same cycle, just moved forward," Bairstow argued. "It just means you get a bit of a lie-in in the morning. Being tired is something that's become part and parcel of Test cricket."

The unknowns are innumerable. The pitfalls are manifold. So, the big question: why? And on this point, the players are adamant. Test cricket, they said, needed to move with changing times, changing consumer habits, changing appetites and behaviours.

"Personally, I think we're very lucky in England to sell Test matches out during the day," Bairstow said. "But if there's a city that's got the capability of holding day-night cricket in Bangladesh, India, the West Indies, England, wherever it may be, and they think it's more feasible to get people through the gate in the evening, it's important to adapt to that. I'm sure the stand at Edgbaston is going to be bouncing."

Broad watched the Adelaide Test match between Australia and South Africa last November. "I really enjoyed watching it," he said. "It's quite an exciting concept. Their twilight period comes a bit earlier, and South Africa actually declared in that twilight period. The exciting thing as a player is that we are going in with a completely clear mind, almost learning on the job. The team that will come out [the] most successful this week is the team that reacts quicker."

A slight question mark has developed over Broad's own form. He has gone 17 Tests without a five-wicket haul, the longest drought of his career, but said that his form was returning.

"I feel like I'm in a place where I'm going to get quite a big haul soon," he said. "It's not something to panic about."