The 2019–21 ICC World Test Championship is the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship of Test cricket. It started from 1 August 2019 with the first Test of the 2019 Ashes series and will finish with a final at Lord’s in England on June 2021. In case of a draw or a tie in the final, two teams playing the final will be declared as joint champions of the ICC World Test championship.
It comes nearly a decade after the International Cricket Council (ICC) first approved the idea for a World Test Championship in 2010, and following two canceled attempts to hold the inaugural competition in 2013 and 2017.
It features nine of the twelve Test-playing nations, each of whom will play a Test series against six of the other eight teams. Each series consists of between two and five matches, so although all teams will play six series (three at home and three away), they will not play the same number of Tests. Every team will be able to score a maximum of 120 points from each series and the two teams with the most points at the end of the league stage will contest the final.
Some of the Test series in this Championship is part of a longer ongoing series, such as the 2019 Ashes series. Also, these nine teams will play additional Test matches during this period which are not part of this Championship, as part of the ICC Future Tours Programme for 2018–23, mainly to give games to the three Test-playing sides not taking part in this competition. On 29 July 2019, the ICC officially launched the World Test Championship.
In terms of player uniforms, all players will adopt a squad number that is the same as their ODI and Twenty20I numbers, with players that only play Test cricket also being assigned a squad number.
Format – World Test Championship
The tournament will be played over two years. Each team will play with six other opponents, three at home and three away. The series will consist of between two and five Test matches. Therefore all participants will not play the same number of Tests but will play the same number of series. At the end of the league stage, the top two teams will play a final in England on June 2021. Each match will be scheduled for a duration of five days.
The ICC decided that the same number of points will be available from each series, regardless of series length, so that countries that play fewer Tests are not disadvantaged. It also decided that points will not be awarded for series results, but for match results only. These will be split equally between all the matches in the series, regardless of whether or not a match is a dead rubber. In a five-match series, therefore, 20% of the points will be available each match, while in a two-match series, 50% of the points will be available each match.
Therefore, depending on whether the series is 2, 3, 4 or 5 matches long, the number of points awarded for a single match win will be a half, a third, a quarter, or a fifth of the maximum possible from the series. The ICC also decided that a tie should be worth half of a win and that a draw should be worth a third of a win.
This all means that after each match, aside could be awarded a half, a third, a quarter, a fifth, a sixth, an eighth, a ninth, a tenth, a twelfth or a fifteenth of the total points available from the series, depending on the result and how many matches the series happens to consist of. Ultimately, this means a figure for the total points available from the series needs to be picked very carefully, as not many numbers give all integers when splitting into all these different fractions (360 does). Being a highly composite number, when 120 is split into all these fractions; an integer is obtained in all cases except one.
Each series will, therefore, carry a maximum of 120 points with points distributed as follows.
|Distributions of points in ICC World Test Championship|
|Matches in series||Points for a win||Points for a tie||Points for a draw||Points for a defeat|
A team that is behind the required over-rate at the end of a match will have two competition points deducted for each over it is behind.
Participants – World Test Championship
The nine Full members of the ICC who will participate are:
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- West Indies
Since each team is scheduled to play only six of the eight possible opponents, the ICC has been able to announce that India and Pakistan will not play against each other in the first and second editions of the tournament.
The three Full members of the ICC who will not participate are:
These are the three lowest-ranked Full members of the ICC. They have been included in the ICC Future Tours Programme; they will play a number of Test matches during this period against Championship participants and each other (12 each for Ireland and Afghanistan, 21 for Zimbabwe) but these will have no bearing on the Championship.