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World Test Championship doesn’t have the buzz the ICC might have hoped for

There is a malaise surrounding the World Test Championship that should trouble the ICC.

Kagiso Rabada - World Test Championship
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The ICC World Test Championship was meant to lend context to bilateral Test match cricket, but the pandemic has rendered it an excessively complicated farce.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Some sterling cricket has been played in the series that have made up the World Test Championship, but the tournament itself has been little more than a footnote to matches that would mostly have happened regardless of the ICC’s initiative.

The irregular nature of bilateral Test cricket made standardising the points system complicated, and in the end, they landed on a series-based scoring.

From the outset, the tournament fell short of what many expected. For starters, they couldn’t deliver an India vs Pakistan series and decided that the nine nations would only face six of the other eight teams.

In the end, even that didn’t come to pass as the pandemic saw series called off and the points system was shifted to be based on the percentage of matches won. India and England completed their six series, while on the other end of the spectrum, Bangladesh played three and a half.

The only saving grace now might be a cracking final between the Black Caps and India at the Rose Bowl. The final is the only thing that now sets the championship above the existing Test rankings.

Lord’s had been set to host the World Test Championship final, but the home of Hampshire took over in light of the venue’s bubble readiness.

New Zealand will have the advantage of having played two Tests against England in the lead-up to the big match, while India will be playing their first game in the format in three months.

Hopefully, the World Test Championship can be tweaked and improved because the concept has promise but needs adjusting.

Home advantage plays an enormous role in the outcome of series, and it might behove the ICC to consider ensuring that all competing nations face each other home and away in a cycle, perhaps over four years rather than three.

There should also be attempts made to ensure that the number of matches teams play are even.

Whatever happens at the Rose Bowl, we can expect changes to the World Test Championship or the scrapping of the event, it cannot remain in its current guise.

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