ICC officially launches World Test Championship, Virat Kohli fancies India’s chances of being crowned winners
Virat Kohli: "We are awaiting the ICC World Test Championship with great enthusiasm." © AFP

Cricket’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), today officially launched the new World Test Championship ahead of the first match of the competition, which is the Ashes series opener between England and Australia on August 1.

As per the ICC World Test Championship, nine of the 12 Test countries (barring Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe) will contest six series across two years – three home, three away – in a league format which culminates in a final in 2021.

During the two-year window the nine teams will play a total of 72 Testa across 27 series – three away and three home series -comprising of a minimum of two Tests and maximum of five. The top two teams at the top of the points tally will play in the final from June 14-20, 2021.

(READ: World Test Championship: Adding context to Test cricket)

Commenting on the launch of the World Test Championship, Virat Kohli, skipper of top-ranked Test team India, said in a statement Monday: “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.”

James Anderson Test record
James Anderson: “The ICC World Test Championship is a brilliant initiative.” © AFP

Test cricket’s most successful fast bowler James Anderson added: “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 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.”

(READ: World Test Championship ‘very exciting’ – Virat Kohli)

The ICC’s general manager (cricket operations) Geoff Allardice 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.”

Tim Paine, whose team will bid to become the first Australian side to win the Ashes on English soil in 18 years, termed the World Test Championship as a “fantastic initiative”.

Tim Paine: “If the WTC ensures countries make Tests a priority, that’s good news for the game”

“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,” he said in the ICC’s statement. “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.”

(READ: New Zealand name four spinners for Sri Lanka Tests)

With points available for every Test match played, each country will play three home and three away series in the World Test Championship. Series counts for 120 points, distributed over the number of matches in a series. For example, a two-Test series will mean 60 points for each Test while a three-match contest 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 points ratio.

The World Test Championship matches will be played like any bilateral series, but with the added context of a competition and one champion team.

The World Test Championship gets underway with the Ashes series from August 1. India play West Indies in a two-Test series later in August while New Zealand travel to Sri Lanka.