Ashes opener marks beginning of World Test Championship - GulfToday

Ashes opener marks beginning of World Test Championship

Ashes opener marks beginning of World Test Championship

England’s Stuart Broad and head coach Trevor Bayliss talk during a training session. Reuters

The opening day of the Ashes series between England and Australia at Edgbaston on Thursday also marks the start of the International Cricket Council’s new World Test Championship.

The aim is to give individual Test series greater context and spark a worldwide revival of interest in the five-day game What is it? The top nine nations will compete in a total of 72 Tests across a two-year period, with the aim of determining the best Test team in the world.

The teams involved will be Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies.

The two teams who top the points table over that period will then play each other in a one-off World Test Championship final at Lord’s in June 2021, before a new cycle starts.

Format Each team will play three series at home and three away, consisting of two, three, four or five Tests. There will be 120 points available per series shared out equally over the number of matches –– so a five-Test series has 24 points per match available to the winner and a three-match campaign 40.

If the match is drawn, points are awarded on a 3:1 points ratio –– so in a Test where 60 points are available for a win, a draw will see both sides take 20. Matches involving Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe will still have Test status but the results will not be counted in the World Test Championship.

 Reaction “Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport,” said England’s leading Test wicket-taker, James Anderson, in an ICC statement.

“It is the very essence of cricket and the majority of players want to strive to play the purist form of the game. The ICC World Test Championship is another brilliant initiative for the sport, adding context and relevance to every Test series. Every Test matters, but even more so now.”

Australia captain Tim Paine said: “If the World Test Championship helps to ensure that all countries make Tests a high priority then that has to be good news for the game in general and the continuing health of the format in particular.”

Meanwhile, England director of cricket Ashley Giles says the World Test Championship could lead to a change in England’s priorities following their World Cup triumph.

This week’s Ashes opener at Edgbaston will be the first Test to count towards a new points table in the format, with 72 matches between the top nine nations taking place over a two-year period before a grand final in 2021.

It is the International Cricket Council’s latest attempt to bolster the five-day game, which is still seen as the pinnacle of the sport but suffers from dwindling attendances in many parts of the world.

England are ranked fourth in Test cricket but top the one-day international rankings.

“We’ve had a focus on the white ball for the last four years and perhaps the time has come to redress that balance,” Giles told Sky Sports News.

“It was important that the pendulum didn’t swing back to 50-50, it had to swing right back to white-ball cricket, which we’d never done in this country.

“Perhaps that (affected the Test team) but we needed to do it if we were serious about winning the 2019 World Cup, which we’ve done.” Reflecting on the potential impact of the Test Championship, he added: “I’m a fan. Test cricket has obviously been marginalised in some parts of the world with the pressure of the shorter forms and the popularity of white-ball cricket.

“This country doesn’t really struggle with that. Test cricket remains popular and the Ashes is sold out this year. England versus Australia doesn’t need any more promotion but around the world it’s not that easy.”

Steve Waugh, currently with the Australia squad as a team mentor, captained one of the most successful teams in Test history between 1999 and 2004.

He won 41 of his 57 matches at the helm and would have enjoyed the chance to seal that success with silverware.

“It is great for Test match cricket. I played a lot over 18 years and many people said we were the number one Test side in the world,” he said.

“But unless you hold up a trophy or get to that final match you’re not really sure. I think Test cricket really needs this. You need something to hang your hat on if you are the best Test team in the world.”


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