World Test Championship: All you need to know

World Test Championship: All you need to know

Ashes will mark the beginning of the World Test Championship. Photo credit: AFP

'Test Championship'-- the words are bound to take a cricket fan down nostalgia lane. It was back in 1999 that the last Test Championship was held, albeit only among Asian teams - India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (Bangladesh were yet to get Test status). Twenty years down the line, the Test Championship has staged a return in a grander way.

The World Test Championship will feature the top nine teams who will compete for the coveted honour of Test Champion of the World. It comes at a time when the wails of 'Test cricket is dying' are gaining ground.

The tournament will begin on Aug. 1, 2019, and will cover 71 Test matches across 27 series. It will be played over a two-year cycle. There are points up for grabs in every match and at the end, the top two teams will clash in the final in June 2021 in England.

The top nine teams in the ICC Test rankings as on March 31, 2018, were chosen to participate. The teams are India, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies, and Bangladesh.

Each of the teams will play three home series and three away series. The matches in a series can vary from a minimum of two matches to a maximum of five matches. The number of matches played by the teams will not be the same. Here is a list of the number of matches that each team is going to play.

TeamMatches 
England 22
Australia 19
India 18
South Africa16
West Indies 15
New Zealand 14
Bangladesh 14
Pakistan 13
Sri Lanka13

Each team will play six series and each series will have a total of 120 points at stake. A two-match series will give 60 points for each Test win while a three-match series will give 40 points for each Test win. A tie will bag 50% of the points available, whilst a draw will result in a 3:1 point ratio. Here is a breakdown of the points system.

Matches WinTieDraw
2603020
3402013
4301510
524128

ICC General Manager Geoff Allardice, speaking to ESPNCrininfo, said: “One general rule of any competition is that teams need to compete for the same number of points in total. With each team playing three series each at home and away, we decided on a consistent number of points for each series. The options were: you either just divide those points by the number of Tests being played in that series, so that every match counts, or you only count the first two Tests of a five-Test series, as an example. The overwhelming view of the member countries was they wanted every match to count.”

Recently, the ICC announced that teams would be docked points in the WTC for slow over-rates. Two points will be deducted for every over a team is behind at the end of a match.

If the WTC final ends in a tie or a draw, the two teams will be joint champions. Although playing conditions allow for a reserve day, it can only be used if net playing time is lost during the scheduled five days of the final. Net playing time for every Test amounts to 30 hours of play (six hours per day).

The Ashes, beginning Aug. 1, 2019, will kickstart the WTC. It's probably not a coincidence that the ICC chose to kick off a global Test Championship with the oldest rivalry in Test cricket history as a way to revive interest in the red-ball format.