The first edition of the much-awaited World Test Championship (WTC) is all set to get underway from August 1 with the five-match Ashes series between Australia and England.
The Ashes, beginning at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham, will be followed by the two-match Test series between Sri Lanka and New Zealand from August 14 and India's two Tests against West Indies at the latter's home turf starting from August 22.
A total of top nine Test teams in the world namely Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies will compete in 71 matches across 27 series, played over two years in the World Test Championship. The top two sides will be contesting the ICC World Test Championship final in June 2021 in the United Kingdom, with the winner being crowned ICC World Test Champions.
Let us take a look at some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to the inaugural tournament:
Q. What is the ICC World Test Championship?
Answer: The ICC World Test Championship (WTC) gets underway on 1 August 2019 and comprises nine teams competing in 71 Test matches in 27 series across two years. Comprising the top nine Test teams in the world, 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 with the winner crowned World Test Champions.
Q. What is the purpose of starting the WTC?
Answer: 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.
Q. How were the teams for the WTC decided?
Answer: 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.
Q. When and where will the WTC be played?
Answer: 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.
Q. What is the league format of the WTC?
Answer: 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.
Q. Will all matches of the WTC be played over five days and do these include day-night matches?
Answer: 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.
Q. How does the points system work?
Answer: 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.
Q. Is the ICC organizing the WTC?
Answer: 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.
Q. Is this a one-off cycle?
Answer: No. 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.
Q. Are all Test matches part of the WTC?
Answer: No. 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.
Q. What about the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings?
Answer: The rankings will continue with all 12 teams on the table. The points table of the WTC will be independent of the team rankings.
Q. Who has the broadcast rights for WTC?
Answer: 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.