Bengaluru, July 22: After the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in 50-over format, it's time for the World Championship in Tests. The inaugural ICC World Test Championship will kick off on August 1 when England take on Australia in the first Test of the Ashes at Edgbaston. The final of the Championship will be played at Lord's in June 2021.
The Test championship is not a standalone tournament, however. It will include bilateral series that the Test-playing nations will lock horns over a period of two years and based on the points accrued after the cycle will the finalists be determined. It will be an integrated tournament over a period of two years with the West Indies-Sri Lanka series in February, 2021, as the final league game.
There were talks about starting a World Championship in Tests to make the longest format more interesting. The integration of all bilateral series into a World Championship will also make each series significant as the tournament will advance, thanks to the points system.
Also, like in ODIs and T20Is, having a world champion in Tests will make the game complete. The ICC had approved the idea for World Test Championship in 2010, but two attempts to stage it in 2013 and 2017 had been cancelled.
A total of nine teams will take part in the tournament (Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland are not there). Each team will play six opponents and not eight as it is in case of a round-robin format. The opponents will vary and so will the number of matches each team will play.
India, for instance, will not play Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The teams will neither play equal number of matches in the league stage and it will depend on the number of games a series has. India, for example, will play 18 Tests in this period of which 10 will be at home and eight away.
England will ben playing the most number of Tests in this period - 22 and they will not meet Bangladesh and New Zealand. The team that will play the least number of Tests is Sri Lanka (13).
Every series will be worth 120 points, irrespective of the number of Tests in a series. A team can make 720 points at most (120 points from six series). However, the points will be awarded as per individual win or draw (they will depend again on the number of Tests in a series). For instance, if a series comprises five Tests, each match will have 24 points while in case of a two-Test series, each game will be worth 60 points (India have 120 points up for the grabs in their upcoming two-Test series against the West Indies).
A tie will earn half the point of a win (30 in case of 60) while draw with fetch one-third of the point of a win (20 in case of 60).
Teams that are officially not supposed to play teams in the Test Championship will still play each other in this two-year cycle but the results of such series will have no bearing on the championship.