How Long Does A Cricket Match Last?

I’ve tried to introduce a lot of my friends to cricket over the years, and one of the common responses I’ve gotten when I’ve suggested that they start watching it is that they don’t want to because the matches last too long! I have to admit, it’s true that cricket matches last a lot longer than other sports like football, but there’s a lot of variation! Unlike football, cricket has many different game formats, and some of those are a lot shorter than others. This means that there’s a game of cricket for everyone – from people with just a couple of hours to kill right through to people who love to sit on the sofa for days!

In this post, I’ll go through the average lengths of each type of cricket match, and I’ll also give you some more interesting facts about cricket matches and how they’ve changed over the years. The cricket that you see today is very different to the one that existed a century ago!

So, how long does a cricket match last?

The answer is, it depends what type of cricket is being played! Here are the average lengths of several different types of cricket match:

  • Test match = 5 days (8-hour days, 90 overs per day)
  • First class match = 3 – 5 days (8-hour days, 90 overs per day)
  • 50 overs per side match = 8 hours
  • 40 overs per side match: 5 – 6 hours
  • 20 overs per side match = 3 – 4 hours
  • 10 overs per side match: 1.5 hours
  • 100 balls per side match: 2.5 hours

The times listed above are the average maximum length of each type of game. If one team dominates the other, matches can finish a lot quicker! For example, a test match can be won by one team in 3 days, rather than them having to play the full 5 days. Likewise, if a T20 game has one team getting bowled out for 50, and the other team knocks off those runs very quickly in their innings, that T20 game would be over much quicker than the allotted 3 – 4 hours!

What Is The Longest Cricket Match Ever Played?

Believe it or not, at one point in history test cricket didn’t have a time limit! The games were played until either side won, or the game ended in a tie. Basically, these rules almost totally ended the possibility of a game finishing as a draw. Games like this were referred to as ‘timeless tests’ and there were 99 of these games played between 1877 and 1939. If you’re not sure about the difference between a cricket match that ends in a tie and one that ends in a draw, or even if you’re not sure about how cricket matches are won, click here to read one of my other posts that will clear up any confusion!

The longest cricket match ever played was a ‘timeless test’, and it took place in 1939 in Durban. The two teams taking part in the match were South Africa and England. Incredibly, the match began on the 3rd March and lasted until March 14th, spanning a total of 12 days! Although there were 12 days of play scheduled, only 9 of those 12 saw any cricketing action. 2 days were assigned as rest days (which was common in timeless tests) and one day saw play abandoned due to rain. Although timeless tests limited the number of draws that occurred, this game was one that did end in a draw! With England 654/5 in their second innings and needing just 42 runs to win, the game had to be ended prematurely as the England team wanted to ensure that they didn’t miss their scheduled ship home!

What Are The Session Times In Test & First Class Cricket?

If you’ve ever watched any test cricket or first-class cricket, you may have noticed that each day of play is divided into three separate segments; the morning session, the afternoon session, and the evening session. Each of the sessions lasts about 2 hours. The players will have lunch between the morning session and the afternoon session, and they will have a break known as ‘tea’ between the afternoon and the evening session. The lunch break is usually about 40 minutes long, and the tea break lasts for about 20 minutes!

The timings of the start and end of each session varies depending on what part of the world you’re playing cricket in, but here is a rough guide on what they are:

  • Morning session – 11am to 1pm
  • Lunch – 1pm to 1:40pm
  • Afternoon session – 1:40pm to 3:40pm
  • Tea – 3:40pm to 4pm
  • Evening session – 4pm to 6pm

These times can change slightly depending on what part of the world the match is being played in. For example, daylight in South Africa may occur at slightly different times to daylight in England, and as a result the hours of play may have to be adjusted slightly.

How Long Is The Break Between Innings?

When the innings of one team ends, the players are allowed a break of roughly 10 minutes to get back out on the field ready for the next innings to begin. The players usually use this time to exit the field, have a drink, freshen up, and change their clothes if they wish. It allows the batsmen that have just left the field to take off their equipment and get ready for fielding/bowling, and it allows the two batsmen that are about to open the batting in the next innings to get themselves mentally and physically prepared for the task.

Sometimes the break between innings can be longer if one innings ends close to a scheduled break like lunch or tea. For example, if one team is bowled out five minutes before the scheduled lunch break, the umpires may choose to take the lunch break 5 minutes early. The changeover in innings will be incorporated into the lunch break, meaning that in this case it would be significantly longer than usual!

How Often Do Drinks Breaks Occur In Cricket?

Drinks breaks usually occur somewhere in the middle of each session, and last only around 5 minutes.

Sometimes these can be called at different times for different reasons. For example, if there is a serious injury to a player, the umpires may choose to call a drinks break early while the situation is resolved!


I hope I’ve managed to convince you that not all cricket matches will take up huge portions of your life! It is a great sport and has something to offer for all kinds of different people. Aside from watching games on TV, I’d definitely recommend heading to a cricket ground near you and watching a game live. The atmosphere is always great – especially for limited overs matches like T20’s. Cricket is fast becoming a global game and the time to get on board is now!

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