Is the ICC World Test Championship format flawed?

The ICC introduced the World Test Championship to breathe new life in to cricket’s oldest format and while it has officially begun with The Ashes 2019 on August 1, India‘s campaign in the championship begins on Thursday with the two-match Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean.

The World Test Championship has been hailed as a proactive move by former cricketers and fans alike. However, there are a few shortcomings in the format of the championship, the inaugural edition of which will run from 2019 to 2021, comprising 71 matches spread across 27 series during the two-year cycle. ALSO READ: India World Test Championship schedule: All you need to know as Virat Kohli’s team plays West Indies

Format 

One would expect that this being the championship and with every team to play each other at least once, it is similar to what we had in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 held in England. However ,the nine competing teams will not all play each other.

Instead, each team will play six series – three home and three away. This means that Sri Lanka won’t be facing off India and Australia in the WTC schedule, while New Zealand will not be playing England and South Africa. On the other hand, Australia won’t be facing West Indies or Sri Lanka, the lower-ranked sides in Test rankings. ALSO READ: World Test Championship will be like the World Cup: Michael Clarke

The ICC’s FTP is decided by the teams among themselves and the big three of India, England and Australia have their pull and will play teams and series that would give them more revenue. Also, an India-Pakistan series is out of the question.

Even though an India-Pakistan series is good for business, in the current political scenario in South-East Asia, it is impossible for India to play Pakistan in a bilateral series. ALSO READ: World Test Championship: Adding context to Test cricket

The big-three get the larger chunk of the revenue

As has been the case, revenue sharing has never been equal and the basic concept here is whoever brings more money gets the larger profit share. Fair enough, many would argue, and owing to that only the Ashes and India-England series are a five-match series.

England play 22 Tests in this two-year period, the most for any team, while Pakistan and Sri Lanka, with 13 Tests, play the fewest. But that will not impact the points as 120 points are for the series irrespective of the number of matches in a series. Via this point system, the teams playing less matches can accumulate the same number of points as the teams playing more matches. That’s an advantage to the former.

No extra bonus for away wins

Winning away from home has traditionally always carried more weight. The dominance of Australia through the 2000s was because they were equally potent home and away while many teams – primarily Asian teams – were termed bullies at home. However, as per the WTC points system, a series win will fetch the maximum 120 points be it away or home, thus not taking in to consideration a team’s away victory as something special or an added advantage.

The continuance of rankings and Test mace 

While the WTC winner will get a trophy and bragging rights, they will still be evaluated as per the current ICC Test rankings and the No.1 team at the end of the year (as per the ICC’s ranking system) will be presented with the Test Mace and the winner’s purse. However, it is too early to comment or to even speculate how teams will look at this in the context of World Test Championship.