And just like that, the lights came on for English cricket. For months it had been mooted, only to fade from likelihood as the season turned to autumn and the opportunity to fine-tune a radical concept came and went.

But now, at the eleventh hour, with tickets for the 2017 season due to go on sale in two working days' time, the ECB has taken the plunge on the strength of a three-day 2nd-XI fixture between Warwickshire and Worcestershire, some pioneering work from the MCC's World Cricket Committee and with Cricket Australia's enthusiasm for the format rather forcing their hand ahead of the 2017-18 Ashes.

A floodlit Test match at the height of the English summer holidays in the nation's second most populous urban area will now take place at Edgbaston next summer against a team, West Indies, that might once have been considered the biggest drawcard in the sport.

If you thought the ECB had made enough agenda-seizing announcements for one close season, you thought wrong. But following hot on the heels of last month's fast-tracking of the city-based T20 format, and with Durham still cowering after their horse-whipping earlier this week, you scarcely needed to analyse the tone of Tom Harrison's ECB statement to recognise this move as the final panel of a very modern triptych.

"It's a great opportunity to attract more fans to the game and see how staging Test cricket in the afternoon and evening fits with working patterns and modern lifestyles," said Harrison. "We think it can help attract different fans and families to Test cricket."

Retrenchment on the one hand, re-evaluation on the other, the board's every move at present has, at its heart, the battle for cricket's soul. It will be coming up on the 40th anniversary of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket when England and West Indies take the field at Edgbaston on August 17, and like children of the revolution, it is as if Packer's most famous utterance, "may the devil take the hindmost", has become the motto of the sport's current rulers.

That doesn't have to be taken as a criticism, by the way, although Durham in particular may be reluctant to see it in any other light right now. Packer, after all, was reviled for his rampant anti-establishmentarianism, but it barely needs pointing out how many of his innovations remain market-leading norms to this day, not least the notion of playing cricket under lights. The wonder is that it has taken half a lifetime to persuade the sport's marquee format to countenance the same direction of travel.

Reaction is destined to be mixed, for opinions and predilections have rarely been so fragmented in the modern game. For the record, there is no doubt in my mind that floodlit Test cricket has to be embraced, for the sake of a sport so defiantly behind the times that it sometimes seems to be volunteering itself for redundancy.

But equally, it would be blasé to ignore the doubts that many of the world's best players harbour when it comes to messing with the sport's oldest and purest format. Alastair Cook, to name but one significant naysayer, is not enamoured, although his reservations stemmed specifically from the prospect of a pink-ball Ashes Test.

"A lot of the games have really good attendances," he said of the prospect of facing Australia under lights next winter. "It's probably not a series where you need to do it."

But therein, with apologies for taking Cook's words somewhat out of context, lies the point. The health of the Ashes is no barometer for the overall well-being of Test cricket, and that means it cannot be the rivalry by which to judge the merits of floodlit cricket either.

And nor is the health of Test cricket in London - as evidenced by regular sellout crowds at Lord's and The Oval, and referenced recently by MCC's president, Roger Knight, at the club's AGM - any reason to extrapolate the sport's rude health elsewhere in England.

In fact, in 2012, Glamorgan - an Ashes host three years earlier - found the following year's tourists, West Indies, such a hard sell that the club instead offloaded its fixture to Lord's. The crowd for that rescheduled Test, Knight pointed out, ended up being larger than those at the other two grounds for the three-Test series - Trent Bridge and, yes, Edgbaston - added together.

With that in mind, you can understand Harrison's enthusiasm for using a non-London venue as his day-night guinea pig. Cricket may be faring better in this country than in many other Test-playing nations, but that is all the more reason to shore up the sport while its strongest markets are still viable.

But unfortunately not all non-London venues are equal in the current climate, and panel two of the ECB's triptych - their brutal and punitive treatment of one of the best cricket-playing clubs in the land - reveals the realpolitik at play in their recent chain of decisions. If the dangers of relying too heavily on one big payday were scrawled in red lettering across Durham's finances, then the reasons why the ECB chose to make an example of their struggles were tucked more subtly into the small print.

Durham's inability to diversify - in particular to attract non-cricket activities, such as conferences and concerts, to supplement their income in the long winter months - was cited as the biggest reason why their debts became so unmanageable. But it also signed the Riverside's death warrant as a venue of any merit in the ECB's brave new world. Whereas Birmingham City Council felt it worthwhile to offer Warwickshire a "repayment holiday" on debts in the region of £20 million - no doubt recognising the benefits to the local economy from major match-day tourism, among other perks - Durham County Council had no similar reasons to offer leniency on debts a fraction of the size.

Notwithstanding the huge value that Durham retains as a production line for emerging talent, and as a first-class team of rare pedigree - and for all the beauty of the Riverside as a venue - it has failed the one test that no amount of revision could have enabled it to pass. Namely, it lacks the ability to attract passing trade. To be at the centre of an epoch-seizing buzz. To be relevant to more people than the 990,000 who currently attend cricket matches in England and Wales.

In other words, it is not a city - let alone one with a population of 1.1 million that is about to host England's first floodlit Test match in the height of the English summer, let alone one that has already preemptively rebranded its T20 team in the anticipation of future upheavals to the sport.

Whether you accept or abhor the direction of travel, this particular gravy train is just pulling out of Birmingham New Street. There seems little option but to get on board.