What are the rules of Test cricket?

rules of Test cricket

Test cricket is the longest and the oldest form of cricket. Test cricket is considered the most prestigious form of cricket. Representing one’s country in test cricket is the dream of every cricketer and only the teams that have been conferred the exclusive test status by the International Cricket Council can only play tests. Only 12 teams have been conferred test status as of now. Let us have a look at the different rules of test cricket to understand it further.

The Test Cricket Format

A test cricket match is played over five days between two teams that have eleven players per side. The team that wins the toss at the beginning of the game decides whether to bat or bowl. A full-length game usually comprises four innings, with each team getting two chances to bat and bowl.

A day of test cricket is divided into three different sessions, separated by lunch and a tea break. The lunch and tea break consists of forty and twenty minutes respectively. Play continues after lunch till the umpires declare the end of the day’s play. Each session comprises 30 overs, and attempts might be made to fit in overs in the other sessions if a session fails to meet the criterion of 30 overs.

New Balls

At the start of every innings, a new ball is provided to the bowling team. With the wear and tear of cricket, the ball usually gets worn out and teams have an option to ask for a new ball after 80 overs.

The new ball is allotted after notifying the in-field umpires. If the ball gets torn or worn out before 80 overs, the umpires will need to replace it. The ball that will be used as the replacement will have the same amount of wear and tear as the previous one. This is done to ensure parity and fair play. New balls will only be available after 80 overs, otherwise, it shall not be provided.  

The Decision Review System (DRS)

The decision review system technology based system that is used to minimize umpiring errors in cricket. Each team is provided with two reviews per innings and players can refer a decision to the third umpire in case they feel it is wrong. It has multiple components – television replay, hawk-eye, snickometer and hot-spot.

The first component replays the play in slow motion; second tracks the trajectory of the ball and predicts if it will be hitting the stump in case of a leg before wicket appeal. The third component tracks sounds to understand whether the ball has hit the bat. The hot-spot shows the point of contact of the ball with the bat. The third umpire is in charge of the decision review system.

The on-field umpires can also refer a decision to the third umpire in case of run-out or a boundary call. In case of a marginal decision, the on-field umpire’s decision will stand – which is known as the umpire’s call.   

How an Innings Can End in Test Cricket

An innings can end in multiple ways. The team will be declared all out if it loses all the 10 wickets; the captain of a team can declare the end of an innings if the team feels it has accumulated enough runs; the team batting in the fourth innings can achieve the target on board; the time of the match expires.

The team that opens the batting puts up a score which the team batting in the second innings will trail. If the second team exceeds the score of the first team, then it will be leading by the number of runs by which it has exceeded. If this lead is not exceeded, then the first team will suffer an innings defeat. In other cases, the team batting third will set a target score after exceeding the lead which the other team shall chase in the fourth innings.

If the team batting second gets all out with a trail of more than 200 runs, then the other team can enforce a follow on. The team batting second will bat again in this case. In case the team fails to make the trail runs, it will suffer an innings defeat.


Test cricket is a complex game comprising multiple rules and protocols. These protocols and rules make it the most complex and coveted format of cricket. We hope the longest version of cricket will keep on attracting more fans as it gets older.