London: Ian Botham has hit out at the "appalling" prospect of a first day/night Test in England, saying the "ridiculous" plan risks damaging cricket's flagship format.
The England and Wales Cricket Board announced last month that Edgbaston will host the first day/night Test ever staged in Britain when England face the West Indies at the Birmingham venue in August next year.
The move will see England become the third nation to stage a five-day Test under floodlights, following Australia's clash against New Zealand in Adelaide last year and Pakistan's recent encounter with the West Indies in the United Arab Emirates.
"It's ridiculous. I think it's appalling," England great Botham told AFP in an interview in London.
"Test cricket is the flagship. You cannot play day/night Test cricket in England because the difference between bowling in the day time, and bowling in the evening, it's unfair," added the former all-rounder, who produced one of the most celebrated displays of his career at Edgbaston when taking five wickets for just one run to seal a stunning win over Australia during the 1981 Ashes.
ECB officials hope that a later start will encourage those who are at work during the day to attend.
But Test matches in England are generally well-supported in comparison to many other countries and there are concerns the English climate may not be conducive to spectators sitting out to watch late in the day.
"I am amazed we are going ahead with it," said Botham, a former England captain.
"We do well (with crowds) in Tests in England. The first three days are certainly usually sold out. They are going to do it, so we will all sit back and watch."
'DRS not going away'
Far from being against all innovation in the game, however, Botham declared himself a strong supporter of the Decision Review System during an interview at a Hardy's wine-tasting event at the Tesco Wine Fair.
DRS featured prominently during England's 1-1 drawn Test series in Bangladesh, which concluded with Bangladesh's dramatic 108-run win in Dhaka on Sunday -- their first Test match win over England.
Umpire Kumar Dharmasena alone had 27 decisions referred to the third umpire in the series, with 13 overturned.
That prompted some fans to joke that DRS in fact stood for the 'Dharmasena Review System'.
Botham though sympathised with the Sri Lankan official, saying umpiring on pitches where the ball spun sharply right from the start was no easy task.
Even India, longstanding critics of the system, have agreed to the use of DRS in their forthcoming five-Test series at home to England starting next week where conditions are set to be similar to those in Bangladesh.
"It (DRS) is not going to go away." said Botham. "It's very difficult for umpires on those surfaces. There's been a lot turned over, but it's very difficult when you start on turning wickets and there's uneven bounce.
"One thing it does do is that it gets rid of the howlers. No umpire deliberately gets it wrong."