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A World Cup of Test Matches? Your full guide to inaugural World Test Championship

The inaugural World Test Championship kickstarts next month with the Ashes series. But what is the tournament all about? Don't worry, we have your back.

Rishabh Gupta Rishabh Gupta
New Delhi Updated on: July 31, 2019 19:18 IST
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The inaugural World Test Championship kickstarts next month with the Ashes series. But what is the tournament all about? Don't worry, we have your back.

Renovating red-ball cricket, the World Test Championship will surely revive the sport which it was traditionally built on.

It has only been just over a week since the end of the fifty-over World Cup. We, as fans, have only begun to move on from the hysteria of a crazy World Cup final, which ended in a tie – twice. The International Cricket Council, however, wants to keep the adrenaline intact – and in comes the first-ever World Test Championship – the so-called World Cup of five-day matches.

While there hasn’t been a test championship on a global scale, the format has been used in Asian cricket twice – in 1998-99 and 2000-01. Pakistan and Sri Lanka won the titles in the two editions of the tournament, but the format wasn’t retained.

The Ashes series, beginning on August 1, will kickstart the maiden World Test Championship. India will make their debut in the tournament a few weeks later, when they tour the West Indies for a two-match series.

But what is the World Test Championship? How long it would be? What would be its format? We remove all your doubts here:

So, what is the World Test Championship?

It is a tournament conducted among the nine test playing nations. India, England, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh will be the part of the inaugural World Test Championships.

I’ve heard of this idea before.

Yes. The ICC initially laid out a plan to begin a World Test Championship in 2010. However, their attempts to hold the tournament failed twice – in 2013 and 2017, before the current edition came into being.

Great. So, what’s the format?

9 teams are participating in the tournament. However, unlike the World Cup, which takes place once every four years, the World Test Championship will run for 24 months. Also, it deviates from the conventional round-robin format.

A team will play in six test series – 3 at home and 3 away, and all the sides were given the liberty to mutually decide upon their opponents throughout the two-year cycle. Every team will play between two to five test matches in a series. However, the sides won’t play the same number of matches throughout the tournament.

Every series is worth 120 points – regardless of the matches in the series.

But, if the number of matches played isn’t equal, how will the points be divided?

Let’s take the example of The Ashes, and India’s tour to the West Indies.

England and Australia will play each other in five test matches, while India will take on West Indies in a two-test series. To keep parity in both the series, the maximum points awarded per test in Ashes will be 24, while the same for India’s tour to West Indies will be 60. To further simplify, here’s a points table.

No. of Tests

Win

Draw

Loss

Tie

2

60

20

0

30

3

40

13.3

0

20

4

30

10

0

15

5

24

8

0

12

Note that the points will be awarded for every test, and not for the result in the series.

If the matches are distributed unequally, will it also impact the home-away ratio?

Sadly, it does. And that has been a point of debate for a while. Some teams play more home test matches than the other, and will justifiably have an edge. Winning overseas, especially in today’s day and age, is a big achievement for any side.

Some have also raised eyebrows over what seems to be an incomplete round-robin format. New Zealand, for example, don’t face England and South Africa – the two tougher oppositions in the longer format. Similarly, Sri Lanka don’t face World No. 1 India, as well as Australia.

When will the World Test Championship begin?

It begins from the Ashes series – August 1.

What’s India’s schedule for the Championship?

Here you go.

August-September 2019: West Indies (away) - 2 Tests

October 2019: South Africa (home) - 3 Tests

November 2019: Bangladesh (home) - 2 Tests

February 2020: New Zealand (away) - 2 Tests

November 2020-January 2021: Australia (away) - 4 Tests

January-March 2021: England (home) - 5 Tests

Where’s the final?

The final will be played at Lord’s in June 2021.

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