ICC Test championship: A welcome move but some questions remain on format
Bengaluru, Juky 22: The ICC Test Championship will begin on August 1 with the opening Ashes Test between England and Australia at Edgbaston.
This will be a two-year-long tournament during which nine Test-playing nations (Afghanistan and Ireland not part while Zimbabwe have already been suspended) will play six opponents.
The number of matches the teams play during the tournament will not be the same either (while England play 22, Sri Lanka play 13) and the two teams that pick the most number of points will qualify for the finals that will be played at Lord's in June 2021.
Although traditionalists have welcomed the move as holding a World Championship in Tests will boost the longer format in the days of T20Is, but there are also some aspects that have raised concerns.
As far as the playing format is concerned, the Test championship will see nine teams playing only six opponents which means they will not play two. Now, teams that don't have to play top-ranked sides (Sri Lanka, for example, will not play Australia and India) could consider themselves lucky to have found an easier schedule. This doesn't make it too fair an affair, feels the experts.
Secondly, win in a Test match/series during the championship will fetch equal points. Although the teams will have to play three home and as many away series, some teams will end up playing more matches at home than away.
Winning Tests on foreign soil is considered is a big achievemnt in the longer format, but since the points at stake for winning matches abroad are same as those for winning at home, teams that play more matches at home will have an advantage.
India, for instance, play 10 out of their 18 Tests at home and eight away. They will consider themselves lucky to have played all big teams in away series over the last one year and there is no immediate big test on that front.