What is ICC World Test Championship and how does it work?

The International Cricket Council (ICC) today, on Monday 29 July 2019, officially launched the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC), which begins with the Ashes and will see nine teams battling in 71 Test matches across 27 series, played for over two years.


The International Cricket Council (ICC) has today, on Monday 29 July 2019, officially launched the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC), which begins with the Ashes and will see nine teams battling in 71 Test matches across 27 series, played for over a period of two years.
ICC on Monday launched the inaugural World Test Championship; 
Image Credits: livehindustan.com

With the end of the Cricket World Cup, the focus now shifts to the much-anticipated ICC World Test Championship, which kickstarts with the Ashes series in England starting from 1st August 2019.

The tournament, which will officially begin on August 1st 2019, will see nine teams; India, Australia, England, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the West Indies, battling in 71 Test matches across 27 series, played for over two years with the top two teams contesting the ICC World Test Championship Final on June 2021 to be played at the home of cricket, "Lords" and the winners will be crowned as ICC World Test Champions.

Teams

The top nine teams based on the ICC Test rankings as on 31 March 2018 will all be part of the 2-years-long Test championship. The teams include India, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh. 

Any matches featuring the teams outside the top nine countries- Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe (if not suspended)- will not be part of this Test Championship.

How does it work?

Each team in the WTC plays three home and three away series. The number of matches in each series varies between a minimum of two matches to a maximum of five matches. However, the number of matches to be played in this WTC is not the same for all the teams.

England will play the highest number of Tests, with 22 scheduled, including four and five-match series against Australia, South Africa and India. Pakistan and Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will only play 13 matches each in the two-year period.

India and Australia will both play 18 matches, 15 a-piece for West Indies and South Africa and 14 each for New Zealand and Bangladesh.

Series in the World Test Championships

Two-match 

Test series
Three-match
Test series
Four-match
Test series
Five-match
Test series
Sri Lanka vs New Zealand (2019) 
India vs South Africa (2019)
South Africa vs England (2019-'20) 
England vs Australia (2019)
Pakistan vs Sri Lanka (2019)
Australia vs New Zealand (2019-'20)
Australia vs India (2020-'21)
India vs England (2021)
Australia vs Pakistan (2019)
England vs West Indies (2020)
West Indies vs India (2019)
Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh (2020)
India vs Bangladesh (2019)
England vs Pakistan (2020)
Pakistan vs Bangladesh 
Bangladesh vs West Indies (2021)
Sri Lanka vs England (2020)
South Africa vs Australia (2021)
West Indies vs South Africa (2020)
New Zealand vs West Indies (2020)
New Zealand vs India (2020)
Bangladesh vs Australia (2020)
Bangladesh vs New Zealand (2020)
New Zealand vs Pakistan (2020)
Pakistan vs South Africa (2021)
South Africa vs Sri Lanka (2021)
West Indies vs Sri Lanka (2021)

As each team will play only three home series and three away series, each team will play against other six teams leaving 2 other teams from the nine. 

With this, India will not be playing against arch-rivals Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Teams
Will not play against
India 
Pakistan & Sri Lanka
Australia
Sri Lanka & West Indies
England
Bangladesh & New Zealand
New Zealand
England & South Africa
Pakistan
India & West Indies
South Africa
Bangladesh & New Zealand
Sri Lanka
Australia & India
West Indies
Australia & Pakistan


How are the points distributed?

Each team plays six series (three home and three away), with each series to be counted 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 four-match series will give 30 points to each match. A tie will be half of the points available. Points will be distributed in a 3:1 ratio if a match is drawn.

Distribution of points
Matches 
Win
Tie
Draw
Defeat
2
60
30
20
0
3
40
20
13
0
4
30
15
10
0
5
24
12
8
0

The ICC’s general manager, Geoff Allardice, about the distribution of points had told ESPNCricinfo that, 
One general rule of any competition is that teams need to compete for the same number of points in total. With each team playing three series each at home and away, we decided on a consistent number of points for each series. The options were: you either just divide those points by the number of Tests being played in that series, so that every match counts, or you only count the first two Tests of a five-Test series, as an example. The overwhelming view of the member countries was they wanted every match to count.

After the end of the current WTC, the second cycle will begin after the final and will go on till 30 April 2023.

Latest changes

Jerseys

The ICC has allowed the Test-playing nations to have the players sport their names and numbers on their jerseys like the limited-overs kit. This move is aimed at familiarising the longest format of the game.

The Australian state sides playing the Sheffield Shield, as well as the England county sides are habituated to wearing white jerseys with names and numbers on the back of their jersey. However, this will be a new experience for the Indian team and also for other nations who are not used to wear numbered jerseys in the red-ball cricket.

Allardyce, speaking about the numbers on the jerseys had told that,
The way we were brought up watching the game: to know who a Test player is by his height, his build, how he walked, his batting stance - sometimes it is not easy for someone who is not well versed with cricket to work out who is who on the field, and the addition of names, and particularly numbers, will help.
We also walk around cricket grounds and we see children wearing team shirts with their favourite player’s number on the back. That happens not just in cricket but in most sports. One thing we don’t see as often is children walking around imitating Test players, so wouldn’t it be great if we started seeing children wearing white shirts with their favourite Test player’s number on the back?

Slow over-rates

Captains will no longer need to fear about the risk of being suspended for slow over-rates, as the ICC had instead decided to cut points in the match and fine the entire side for any such violations, beginning with the upcoming World Test Championship.

“In World Test Championship matches, a team that is behind the required over-rate at the end of a match will have two competition points deducted for each over it is behind. All players should be held equally responsible for slow over-rates, and as such will be fined at the same level as the captain.” the ICC said recently.

Speaking about the introduction of World Test Championship, here is what our Indian Skipper, Virat Kohli said, "We are awaiting the ICC World Test Championship with great enthusiasm as it adds context to the longest format of the game." 


"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 in test cricket and will be fancying its chances in the championship," he added.

In the overall aspect, it is a great initiative taken by the ICC to bring back the test cricket to where it belongs. Recently, the passion for the red ball cricket has been decreased in the fans with the introduction of T-20 cricket and now with the World Test Championship, each and every cricket lover will get to know what the test cricket is all about.

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