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How many overs in Test Cricket are due in a day and a session?

Despite being the purest format of the sport, there are often some confusion regarding how many overs in Test cricket can be bowled in a particular session or on a day. How many overs in Test cricket are bowled over the course of the five days during which it lasts? Although it has many factors involved, as a general rule the target is to cover a minimum of 90 overs on every single day of a Test match.

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Such questions are quite common given the technical nature of Test cricket and that it has been taken over by T20 matches and One Day Internationals as the more popular and attractive formats. However, Test cricket has a charm of its own and in order to understand it

The sport of cricket is a competition between bat and ball involving the two different sides on the field. Test cricket, unsurprisingly is the oldest, the longest, and described by many, as the ‘purest’ format of the game. They are held between national representative teams that have been specially granted the Test status by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

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The name ‘Test’ actually comes from the nature of the competition as test matches are long, gruelling, and very exhausting both mentally and physically. The two opposition sides, made up of 11 players each, play cricket for up to five days and compete across four innings. Despite the duration, a Test match may end in one of four ways – win, lose, draw and tie.

Test cricket is the greatest ‘test’ of a player’s technique, mettle, mental resilience, and physical compatibility. But how did Test matches begin and when was it played for the first time?

How many overs in Test cricket – History and origins

The first officially recognized Test match took place between March 15 and March 19, 1877 and it was held between two teams – England and Australia. The match was held at the now iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Australia. The very first match was won by Australia by 45 runs but England won the second one.

The Ashes, which is famous and intense to this day, was established as the first proper cricket competition following repetitive tours and matches between the two countries of England and Australia.

South Africa became the third team to play Test cricket in 1888–89, when they hosted a tour by an under-strength England side. West Indies (1928), New Zealand (1930) and India (1932) were the next countries to be granted the status of Test playing nations. Today, 12 countries play Test matches with Ireland and Afghanistan being the latest entrants in 2018.

The ICC changed the playing conditions of a Test match for the first time in October 2012, when it allowed day/night Test matches to be held. A day-night Test match or a pink ball Test match can even take place in the night under floodlights and is played with a special pink ball to increase visibility. The first day-night Test match took place between Australia and New Zealand in 2015 at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide.

How many overs in Test cricket are bowled over the course of the match?

A Test match lasts over five days and usually consists of somewhere around 450 overs over the entire match. A match is made up of four innings where each team bats and bowls twice. The job of the team batting first is to set a score as high as possible before getting all out.

If at any point, the team considers that they have more than the requisite total required on the scoreboard while keeping in mind the number of days/overs remaining in the match and the need to produce a result, they can declare the innings. This will then allow the fielding team to take their turn at batting.

Bowlers aren’t allowed to bowl two overs in succession. Fast bowlers are particularly lethal with the new ball on the first day and they are the ones that usually start or close an innings. On a flat pitch with grass, they are deadly and need to be handled with caution. On the other hand, on a dusty pitch with turns, spinners come into the attack early on and try to extract maximum turn out of the track, which is extremely prominent on the last day of the match as the track slows down considerably.

The current playing time limit of five days in Test matches wasn’t always the case. In fact, during the early days of Test cricket, matches were held for three or four days. Four-day Test matches were last played in 1973, between New Zealand and Pakistan. Until the 1980s, it was usual to include a ‘rest day,’ often a Sunday. There have also been ‘Timeless Tests’, which have no predetermined maximum time.

How many overs in Test cricket are bowled in an innings?

In Test cricket, each innings is broken into overs. An over is defined by six consecutive legal deliveries bowled by the same bowler. The fielding side that the bowler represents has no fixed limit to the number of overs that have to be bowled in a particular innings. The innings will go on until all the batters of the opposition have been dismissed or until the batting side decides to declare the innings. Generally, in an innings, a bowler cannot bowl more than 20 consecutive overs as the limit is one hour.

How many overs in Test cricket are bowled on a day?

A standard day of Test cricket consists of three sessions of two hours each, with the break between sessions being a maximum of 40 minutes for lunch and 20 minutes for tea.

However, the timings of these sessions and intervals may be changed under several circumstances: for example, if bad weather or a change of innings occurs close to a scheduled break, the break may be taken immediately.

If there has been a loss of playing time, for example, because of bad weather, the session times can also be adjusted in order to recover the time that has been lost due to the unforeseen circumstance. If the batting side is nine wickets down at the scheduled tea break, then the interval may be delayed until either 30 minutes has elapsed or until the team is all out and batsmen have been sent back to the pavillion.

The final session can also be extended by up to 30 minutes if a minimum of 90 overs have not been bowled during that day’s play (this condition is also subject to any reduction for adverse weather); the final session may also be extended by 30 minutes (except on the 5th day) if the umpires believe the result can be decided within that time. All of these decisions are usually taken after consultation between the two umpires.

A day’s play is usually six hours long but it is subject to changes because of weather conditions, sufficient lighting etc. It must be mentioned here that there is no fixed maximum number of overs allowed to be bowled in a Test match. The extent of the play is actually determined by the umpires on the basis of time and conditions. On the last day, however, the provisions for the ‘last hour’ apply. This means that at least 15 overs need to be bowled after the last hour has started on the final day of the match.

How many overs in Test cricket are bowled in a session?

While there is no fixed number, but by a general rule of thumb, each of the three sessions in a day is nearly 30 overs long. A session can also be broken up into two to three minor sessions depending on when the umpires call for drinks breaks. The exact timing of these breaks aren’t pre-decided and varies from situation to situation.

According to the rules stated by the ICC, teams are expected to maintain an average of 15 overs per hour in Test matches. Fast bowlers usually take longer time to bowl considering their long run-ups, rest period and delivery launch. Spinners are often utilized to make up for slow over-rates if an umpire a team captain that his side is far behind.


Is there a limit of overs in Test cricket like limited overs cricket?

No, unlike limited overs cricket, there is no limit to the number of overs in Test cricket.

How long is a day in Test matches?

A day in test matches is made up of three sessions which are around two hours each. Lunch break lasts for 40 minutes and the tea break is taken for 20 minutes. In between the sessions, there are often drinks breaks.

What is the maximum number of overs a team can bowl in a day of a Test match?

There is no limit to the maximum number of overs that a team is allowed to bowl in one day of a Test match. It is usually somewhere around 90 overs and the number is fixed by the umpires after assessing the conditions.

How long is tea in a Test match?

Typically, tea lasts for 20 minutes in a Test match.

What is the shortest Test match ever?

On the basis of actual playing time, the shortest Test match took place between England and Australia at Trent Bridge on 12 June 1926. There were only 50 minutes of play in which 17.2 overs were bowled and England managed to score 32 runs without the loss of a wicket.

What is the longest cricket game?

The longest match in Test cricket has lasted 9 days with as many as 680 overs being bowled. The match was played between South Africa and England, and it earned the name of ‘The Timeless Test’ in the media and popular culture.


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