Port Elizabeth is ready to become the venue for the historic first ever four-day Test between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
This has replaced the originally scheduled India-South Africa Boxing Day Test and was granted Test status by ICC on ‘trial’ basis. The then ICC chief executive David Richardson had said the four day Test trials will run through till the 2019 World Cup and participation was welcomed, thought not mandatory.
With one day reduced from the normal format of a Test match, the playing conditions have also been altered to accommodate the maximum amount of play possible each day.
Each day of the upcoming four day Test will see minimum of 98 overs being bowled to fulfill the ICC playing conditions. Also a lead of 150 runs will be adequate to enforce follow-on; whereas the five day Test requires a lead of 200 runs to do so.
There will be six and a half hours of play each day to accommodate the extra overs as per the ICC playing conditions. It will be up to the home board to determine the hours of play and duration of the sessions, with each session lasting from two hours to two and a half hours.
Timings for the first four-day Test:
First session: 1.30pm-3.45pm
Tea interval: 3.45pm-4.05pm
Second session: 4.05pm-6.20pm
Dinner break: 6.20pm-7pm
Third session: 7pm-9pm
The Test will also be a day-night Test played under lights with a pink ball. Under the modified playing conditions of the game, the first break - for tea - will be the shorter of the two at 20 minutes, with a 40-minute break for dinner following later.
"Whoever wants to play it can play it," Richardson had said. "The real value is [for] teams like Ireland and Afghanistan, even Zimbabwe who have not been at their best. Teams visiting, for example, South Africa, might be more likely to [take a detour to] play Zimbabwe in a four-day Test than they would in a five-day Test. So I think it has a number of advantages."