ICC launches Test championship, the 'World Cup' of red-ball cricket

The International Cricket Council (ICC) launched the inaugural World Test Championship on Monday, setting the stage for a long tournament in red-ball cricket to determine the World Test Champion.


The two-year affair comprises top nine Test teams-- Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies -- who will compete in 71 matches in 27 series.


Each team will play three home and three away series. The top two teams at the end will compete in the ICC World Test Championship Final in the UK in June 2021.


The first Ashes Test between England and Australia at Edgbaston will mark as the inaugural game of the event.


India will not play against Pakistan because each team has picked six opponents by mutual agreement, within the existing framework of the Members rights agreements. Also, the teams can play matches outside the World Test Championship during this period.


Accordingly, The Indian team would be playing against West Indies, South Africa, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Australia and England. India will play away series against West Indies, New Zealand and Australia.


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 finals.


In the Test Championship, a series can have a minimum of two matches and a maximum of five matches. Every match will be a five-day affair. Teams can play day-night Tests by mutual agreement.


The World Test Championship points table will be independent of the ICC Test rankings. The Test rankings will continue to have 12 teams on the table. Broadcast rights belong to the host cricket board that will organise the series. The ICC, though, will have the broadcast rights for the final.


Here’s all you need to know:


What is the purpose of starting the WTC?


The WTC has been introduced to revive bilateral Test cricket. Points will be available for every single game. The move is also taken to keep the Test cricket alive in the era of T20 cricket.



How were the teams for the WTC decided?


The top nine ranked teams on the 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.


When and where will the WTC be played?


The WTC will be played over two years across different continents starting from August 1, 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 champions decided after 71 Test matches. The final will be played in June 2021 in the UK.


What is the league format of the WTC?


Each of the nine teams in the WTC will play six of the eight possible opponents, with three series at home and three series away. The number of matches in each series can vary between a minimum of two matches to a maximum of five matches, with the number of matches played in each series being agreed by the two competing teams before the start of the competition.


How does the points system work?


Each team will play six series, with 120 points available from each series. These points will be evenly allocated across the number of matches in each series. For example, a two-match series will mean 60 points for a win in each Test, while it comes down to 24 points for a five-match series. A tie will see the teams sharing the points while a draw will be in 3:1 ratio


Is this a one-off cycle?


No. The plans are to have two-year cycles starting with the first one from 1 August 2019 to 30 April 2021. The second one is scheduled from June 2021 to 30 April 2023.



Are all Test matches part of the WTC?


No. Only the matches identified as part of the WTC will count towards the championship. Any matches featuring the Test teams outside the top nine - Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe - will not be part of the Test Championship.



What about the ICC Test Team Rankings?


The rankings will continue in the same way after each series. The WTCs points system will be independent of the Test rankings.


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