Dubai: The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday officially launched the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship (WTC), which will get underway on August 1, 2019.
WTC will see the top nine Test teams in the world Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies competing in 71 Test matches across 27 series, played over two years; with the top two teams contesting the ICC World Test Championship Final in June 2021 (to be played in the UK) and the winners crowned ICC World Test Champions.
Speaking during the launch, Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager - Cricket Operations said, "The ICC Men's Cricket World Cup this summer showed just how important it is for every game to count and for the world's best teams to go head-to-head. The World Test Championship will bring relevance and context to bilateral Test cricket over the next two years, creating a pinnacle event for the five-day format, just as the World Cups for men and women do in the ODI and T20I formats."
Commenting on the WTC, England's leading test wicket-taker James Anderson said that the ICC World Test Championship is a brilliant initiative for the sport.
"Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport. It is the very essence of cricket and the majority of players want to strive to play the purest 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," the ICC quoted Anderson as saying.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli said that his side has done pretty well in recent years and they will now be fancying their chances in the World Test Championship.
"We are awaiting the ICC World Test Championship with great enthusiasm as it adds context to the longest format of the game. Test cricket is very challenging and coming out on top in the traditional form is always highly satisfying. The Indian team has done really well in recent years and will be fancying its chances in the championship," Kohli said.
On the other hand, Australia Test captain Tim Paine has described WTC as a fantastic initiative.
"The World Test Championship is a fantastic initiative. "We love playing Test cricket, it's the pinnacle for us, remains hugely popular in Australia and we're fortunate that it enjoys great support at home among players, the media and the public. To wear the baggy green is the ultimate for all Australian cricketers and 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," Paine said.
With points available for every single game, each team will play three home and three away series. Each series counts 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 point ratio.
Organized by Member Boards, the matches will be played just like any bilateral series, but with the added context of a competition and one champion team.
Opponents were scheduled by the collective agreement of the competing Members, with a number of the fixtures already committed within existing Member rights agreements.
The number of matches in each series can vary between a minimum of two matches, to a maximum of five matches. 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. Only matches identified as part of the WTC will count towards the championship.