Rules of Test Cricket

Being one of the nations that live and breathe cricket, Indians can relate to this more than probably any other place in the world. The international scene may have been taken over by limited overs cricket games like ODI, T20, and even T10, but the appeal of test cricket is still there. 

Needless to say, you can bet on test cricket just like you do with limited overs cricket too. The markets are more or less the same. It’s just the duration of the markets is different. This is our guide where we go deep into what are the rules of test cricket. We’re going to learn how many sessions in test cricket are there, how test cricket works, and plenty of other elements that are going to help you with betting.

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What is Test Cricket and How Did it Start?

  • Test cricket is the very first form of the sport. And it reaches back all the way to the 18th century when England started playing. However, the game was not officially recognised until the 1890s! By that time, England and Australia cricket teams had faced each other multiple times. In fact, these 2 countries were the first to achieve the prestigious “test status”.  

    What is Test Cricket and How Did it Start?

Fast forward to today, 12 teams from across the world have test status. Yes, India is one of them. In fact, India is one of the strongest cricket teams in the world across all formats. So, the craze behind online cricket betting makes sense in this region. The first “test series” took place between 1884 and 1885, between England and Australia. The series consisted of 5 matches. By the time of the first world war, only 3 countries were granted test status and they were England, Australia, and South Africa. 

The term “test”, however, bore a different meaning. It’s believed that the term was first used during the 1861/1862 season. The England cricket team went to Australia to play matches against various colonial teams to “test” their playing abilities. For some reason, this is the term officials decided to use when the very first official test match happened in 1877. Also, ICC introduced day/night cricket in 2012 for the first time. Before that, the rules of test cricket dictated that a match can only happen during the day. 

The Flow of a Match

Now that you’re somewhat updated on the history of test cricket, we can move on to the first set of rules of test cricket. We’re going to cover the flow of a modern-day test match so that you have an idea of what you’re looking at.

  • 1

    The Length

    According to the current ICC test cricket rules, a match can last up to 5 days. If a result isn’t drawn by that time, the match itself is declared as a draw. It means both teams get equal points and an equal share of prize money. There can also be test cricket matches that last only 3 days. But this format is rarely used nowadays.

  • 2

    The Toss

    Just like any other format of cricket, a test match also starts with the toss. Captains from both teams join the umpires and the referee on the field. The winning captain decides to choose whether the team wants to bat first or bowl first. This decision is normally predetermined after hours and hours of discussion among the players, the captain, and the coach. However, factors like sudden weather changes or injuries can impact it. 

  • 3

    How Many Sessions in Test Cricket?

    In general, the play for a single day is split into 3 sessions. Morning, Afternoon, and evening. These sessions should ideally last around 2 hours. Then again, many factors can change the duration of a session. So, in total, there are 15 sessions in a test cricket match, given that the match unrolls to its full potential. And that should answer your question about how many sessions are there in test cricket. 

  • 4

    The Breaks

    During a day of test cricket, there is a lunch break and a tea break. The lunch break commences after the first session, as in the morning. A lunch break typically lasts for 40 minutes, unless otherwise stated. The tea break kicks in once the afternoon session is over. A tea break typically lasts for 20 minutes.

    Keep in mind that these durations are flexible based on other variables such as bad weather, play delay due to injuries, the status of the match, and so on. For example, if the batting side loses 9 wickets and it’s time for the tea break, the break itself may be delayed by 30 minutes. If the last batter is dismissed at that time, the break is taken immediately.

  • 5

    Number of Overs

    A minimum of 90 overs must be bowled every day of the match, except for the final day. On the final day, the minimum number of overs to be played is 75. If you’re wondering how many overs in one session of test cricket, the answer is 30 overs. If there are valid reasons for the play to be delayed, the final session can be extended up to 30 minutes. It’s a joint call from the umpires and the referee of the match. However, the session cannot be extended on the final day of the match. 

  • 6

    Number of Innings

    An innings is the duration for one team to bat and the other team to bowl. It ends when the batting side loses all 10 wickets. According to the test cricket rules, a test match can have 4 innings. That automatically assigns 2 innings per team. It means both teams can bat and bowl twice. However, the toss is done only once. 

What are the Common Rules of Test Cricket?

Up until this point, we’ve covered the major aspects of a test match. You know how many sessions in test cricket are there, how long the breaks are, how many innings are played, and so on. 

Now, it’s time to get into the rules of test cricket that distinguish it from the rest of the formats. 

The Result

Let’s start with how the result of a test match is dictated before anything else. We can then trace back and look into the test cricket rules for the duration of the innings. 

  • Innings Completion
  • Run Overtake
  • No 4th Innings
  • Time Expiry
  • Ground Abandonment
  • Forfeiture

End of an Innings

In what ways an innings can end also comes under the rules of test cricket. Usually, there are 4 scenarios that can happen. 

  • All Out
  • Innings Declaration Cricket
  • Successful Run Chase
  • Time Expiry

Follow On

This is somewhat of an interesting rule you can only find in test cricket and first-class cricket. If the team batting the 2nd innings trails by a big margin of the runs scored by the opponent during the 1st innings, the leading captain can make the other team bat again. For a follow on to be active, a team must lead by at least 200 runs. 

Decision Review System (DRS)

DRS is a relatively newer addition to test cricket where each team gets 2 chances to “review” the umpire’s decision on the basis that it’s an incorrect call. Usually, dismissal decisions like LBW, run out, or caught behind wickets sees the most use of DRS. 

The Concussion Substitution Rule

This is perhaps one of the newest test rules in cricket if not the newest. The Concussion Substitute Rule dictates that in case a batter sustains a head injury during the match and there are risks of a concussion, a substitute can be introduced. According to regular substitute laws, a sub (the player who comes to the field as the substitute) could only field. But the new rule allows a sub to bat, bowl, and field to keep things balanced and fair between the opponents. 

Who Can Play?

As we already mentioned, there are 12 teams in the world that are full members of the ICC and have a test status. These teams are:

  1. Australia
  2. England
  3. South Africa
  4. West Indies
  5. New Zealand
  6. India
  7. Pakistan
  8. Sri Lanka
  9. Zimbabwe
  10. Bangladesh
  11. Ireland
  12. Afghanistan 

The teams are listed according to the timeline of when they were granted the status. 9 out of the 12 teams are sovereign nations. 

The England team represents all constituent countries in the UK, the West Indies team represents 15 Caribbean nations, and the Ireland team represents Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 

Jarin Ahmed
Like many aspiring writers, Jarin focuses on bringing life to the text for her readers. She is an avid sports lover, growing up in a family obsessed with bookies. She is an expert in the iGaming niche and has secondary obsessions with Gardening and cooking.
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FAQ. Frequently Asked Questions
  • 💡What are the rules of test cricket?

    A test match happens between 2 teams where each team plays 2 innings and the match can last up to 5 days. The overs are not limited in test cricket, unlike the limited over formats like ODI or T20.

  • 💡How do you play test match rules?

    To bet on test cricket, you must always be aware of the rules and play by them. For starters, there can only be 90 overs in a day, 15 overs per hour. It means you need to plan your bets and markets according to the rules of test cricket.

  • 💡How does a 5 day test match work?

    If one of the teams scores more than the other team in the last innings, it wins. If it loses all the wickets before reaching the target, it loses. If there are wickets to be taken but the reserved 5 days are over, the match is a draw.

  • 💡How is a winner decided in test cricket?

    The batting team needs to chase the total runs by the opponent or must dismiss all batters before the match is over.

  • 💡Is 3way betting possible in test cricket?

    As a draw is a valid outcome according to test cricket rules, 3way betting is possible. You can either bet on Team A to win, Team B to win, or the match to draw.