World Test Championship (WTC) is ICC’s effort to provide context to the bilateral Test series among the top cricketing nations.
Tim Paine, the Australian Test team captain welcomed WTC with open hands by calling the league based competition a fantastic initiative, and Virat Kohli, the Indian captain commented that the Championship format adds the much-needed value to the longest format of the game!
The inaugural edition of the Test Championship (2019-2021) starts off from the first test of 2019 Ashes Series.
Here are 10 essential points, every cricket fan should know about the World Test Championship!
ICC World Test Championship
I. The inaugural World Test Championship comprises the top 9 ranked test teams on 31st March 2018, playing 6 Test Series inside the two-year period of August 2019 – June 2021.
Each team will play 3 Home Test series and 3 Away Test series.
2. The number of Tests to be played in every Test series will be decided by the competing members. For example, India – Bangladesh bilateral Test series in 2019 will have 2 Tests in the series, and few high profile series like Ashes Trophy and India vs England (2021) will have 5 games in the series.
3. Regardless of the number of Tests played in the series, the points allocated for every bilateral series in the WTC is 120. That is, in a two-match Test series, every win will give teams 60 points each, and in the 5 match series, it is 24 points for a win. The points for every drawn game is at 1:3 ratio from the winning points.
4. ICC also announced that slow-over rates will dock teams’ points in WTC. 2 Points will be docked for every over that are behind.
What about the other Test members?
5. Also, not every Test series played in the 2 year period will come under World Test Championship. For example, Test series involving other Test members – Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland will not have any impact on the WTC points table. Also, there will be few other series like England vs New Zealand (November 2019) is part of the teams’ bilateral schedule but will not be taken into consideration for the WTC.
6. The Big final of the first cycle of World Test Championship will be played, between the top 2 teams in the points table at the end of the cycle, in June 2021 at The Rose Bowl, Southampton. The winner of the final will be called the World Test Champions.
7. If the final game of WTC ends in a draw, both finalist teams will be declared the joint champions. Anyways, Reserve Day will be allocated in case of more game hours lost by the rain or any unplayable circumstances.
When is the next Test league scheduled?
8. The second cycle is also planned inside the time period of July 2021 and April 2023.
Will ICC Rankings get influenced by WTC?
9. The Points of WTC will not have any influence in ICC Test Rankings despite the rankings are used to decide on the participant teams. The rankings will be continued to be in the system, even for the series, which are not part of WTC. You can read here how ICC Rakings are calculated.
10. Day-night games will be part of the WTC programme on the basis of the mutual agreement between the competing teams.
11. WTC will consist only the 5-day Test matches. The proposed idea of 4-day Test matches will not be part of this cycle.
Cons in the format
It is clear that ICC is looking to up-bring bilateral Test series by adding meaning to them. And, that doesn’t mean the league format has ticked every right box. Like every new innovative idea, the WTC has its own fault.
Firstly, the authorization of ICC is in question as they can’t make India-Pakistan playing against each other possible unless both these teams qualify for the final.
Also, they don’t have a say on the number of Tests played in every series, as the decision-making is wholly on the competing members.
For instance, Ashes cannot be made a 2 or 3 match series as neither England or Australia will accept to that, thanks to its rich history and fan-following. And, it is also not possible to make every series – a 5-match Test series.
All these complications pushed ICC to create a Points system which is logically fallacious.
For example, India will get 60 points if they win in the 1st test against West Indies as it is a 2-match series, whereas Australia or England will get just 24 points if they win in the 1st Ashes test match, which is a high profile and a highly competitive game.
The Bottom line
Also, one cannot write-off this move by ICC completely as a flawed one. It is just a start. The system is very new and it is always bound to improve like any new innovation.
ICC also should find a way to reach the other associate members by making them play all formats of the game regularly.
Hopefully, we will see a more organised and balanced World Test Championship in future with more participants.