ICC launches World Test Championship

Getting underway on 1 August 2019, the WTC will see the top nine Test teams in the world – Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies – compete in 71 Test matches across 27 series, played over two years; with the top two teams contesting the ICC World Test Championship Final in June 2021 (to be played in the UK) and the winners crowned ICC World Test Champions.

Comments Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager – Cricket Operations: “The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup this summer showed just how important it is for every game to count and for the world’s best teams to go head-to-head. The World Test Championship will bring relevance and context to bilateral Test cricket over the next two years, creating a pinnacle event for the five-day format, just as the World Cups for men and women do in the ODI and T20I formats.”

“Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport,” said England’s leading test wicket-taker, James Anderson. “It is the very essence of cricket and the majority of players want to strive to play the purist form of the game. The ICC World Test Championship is another brilliant initiative for the sport, adding context and relevance to every Test series. Every Test matters, but even more so now.”

“We are awaiting the ICC World Test Championship with great enthusiasm as it adds context to the longest format of the game,” said India’s skipper, Virat Kohli. “Test cricket is very challenging and coming out on top in the traditional form is always highly satisfying. The Indian team has done really well in recent years and will be fancying its chances in the championship.”

“The World Test Championship is a fantastic initiative,” said Australia Test captain Tim Paine. “We love playing Test cricket, it’s the pinnacle for us, remains hugely popular in Australia and we’re fortunate that it enjoys great support at home among players, the media and the public. To wear the baggy green is the ultimate for all Australian cricketers and if the World Test Championship helps to ensure that all countries make Tests a high priority then that has to be good news for the game in general and the continuing health of the format in particular.”

With points available for every single game, each team will play three home and three away series. Each series counts for 120 points, distributed over the number of matches in a series. For example, a two-match series will mean 60 points for each Test while a three-match series will give 40 points to each Test match. A tie will be 50% of the points available, whilst a draw will be a 3:1 points ratio.

Organised by Member Boards, the matches will be played just like any bilateral series, but with the added context of a competition and one champion team. Opponents were scheduled by the collective agreement of the competing Members, with a number of the fixtures already committed within existing Member rights agreements.

The number of matches in each series can vary between a minimum of two matches, to a maximum of five matches. The first cycle of the WTC consists of only five-day matches and will include day-night matches, subject to bilateral and mutual agreement between the opponents. Only matches identified as part of the WTC will count towards the championship.

The ICC is responsible for the competition terms and the conduct of cricket, by way of providing match officials and ensuring matches are played as per the laws of the game. The ICC is also responsible for delivery of the ICC World Test Championship final.

The WTC has been introduced to bring context to bilateral Test cricket. Every game in a series will count for points as the world’s best teams go head to head. The WTC honours the importance of the longest format of the game and ensures a pinnacle event for the format just as the World Cups for men and women in the ODI and T20I formats.

The top nine ranked teams on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings as on 31 March 2018 qualified for the WTC. Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies are the teams competing in the WTC.

The WTC will be played over two years across different continents starting from August 2019. The matches will be played just like any bilateral series but with the added context of a competition and one champion team. The nine teams will figure in 27 series with the champion decided after 72 Test matches. The Final will be played in June 2021.

Each of the nine teams in the WTC plays three home and three away series, with the opponents decided by mutual agreement often within existing frameworks of Member rights agreements. The number of matches in each series can vary between a minimum of two matches to a maximum of five matches.

WILL ALL MATCHES OF THE WTC BE PLAYED OVER FIVE DAYS AND DO THESE INCLUDE DAY-NIGHT MATCHES?

The first cycle of the WTC consists of only five-day matches and will include day-night matches, subject to bilateral and mutual agreement between the opponents.

Each team plays six series, with each series counting for 120 points, distributed over the number of matches in a series. For example, a two-match series will mean 60 points for each Test while a three-match series will give 40 points to each Test match. A tie will be 50% of the points available, whilst a draw will be a 3:1 points ratio.

IS THE ICC ORGANIZING THE WTC?

The ICC has worked with its Members to bring context to bilateral cricket by optimizing the Future Tours Programme (FTP). Each series will be organised by the Host Member Board as in the past, but now the teams play with a points system in place. The Host Board is responsible for all organizational matters including venues, broadcast, ticketing, etc. The ICC is responsible for overseeing the competition by way of providing match officials and ensuring matches are played as per the World Test Championship playing conditions and competition terms. The ICC is also responsible for delivery of the ICC World Test Championship Final.

The plans are to have two-year cycles starting with the first one from 1 August 2019 to 31 March 2021. The second one is scheduled from June 2021 to 30 April 2023.

Only the matches identified as part of the WTC will count towards the championship. Any matches featuring the teams outside the top nine – Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe – will not be part of the Test Championship.

The rankings will continue with all 12 teams on the table. The points table of the WTC will be independent of the team rankings.

The broadcast rights for each series belong to the Host Member Board as has always been the case, however, the rights for the WTC Final in June 2021 rest with the ICC.

COURTESY: ICC