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ICC World Test Championship begins with the Ashes. Here’s all you need to know about it

The championship will see 9 Test-playing nations play bilateral series that will have points before the top two play the final in England in 2021.

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New Delhi: Nine test match playing teams, 27 series and 72 Test matches over two years — that is the schedule that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has formulated for the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC), officially launched Monday.  

According to the media release put out by the ICC, the maiden edition of the World Test Championship will kick off with the Ashes, set to begin between England and Australia on 1 August, and will carry on until June 2021. The finale to the tournament will be played in England between the top two teams.

All of the games will be five-day Test matches, including day-night Tests. ThePrint explains the format.

Structure and point distribution  

The top nine Test teams in the ICC World Test Cricket ranking as of 31 March 2018 have made the cut for the first edition — Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.   

The Test-playing teams missing out are Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe. 

The nine teams will play up to six different opponents in three home and three away series. The number of matches in each series, however, can vary between a minimum of two to a maximum of five. For instance, the Ashes is a five-match series while the India-West Indies bilateral series has two test matches. 

The number of points in each series, however, will total 120 irrespective of whether it is a two-match, three-match or five-match series. 

The 120 points will be equally distributed over the number of matches in a series. For example, if there are only two matches in a series then there will be 60 points for each Test match. In case of a five-match series, each test will have 24 points up for grabs.

The winning team will get all of the points but if a match ends in a tie, the points will be shared. In case of a draw, each team will get 33 per cent of the match points

If the final in June 2021 ends in a draw or is tied, the team with the highest points at the end of the league phase will be declared the winner.

The organisation of the Test series 

The championship will kickstart with the Ashes on 1 August and will be followed by the India-West Indies series on 3 August and the Sri Lanka-New Zealand series on 14 August.

Each of the series will be organised by respective country cricket boards and the matches will be played like any bilateral series. But points will be carried forward from each of the series as part of the championship.   

The number of matches has been fixed as of now and since all the teams do not play each other, and the series are not all uniform, each team will play a different number of matches.   

The number of matches that each team will play is as follows — England (22), Australia (19), India (18), South Africa (16), West Indies (15), New Zealand (14), Bangladesh (14), Pakistan (13) and Sri Lanka (13).

This leaves the format skewed in favour of a team with a lesser number of matches against a weaker team. For example, the India-West Indies being a two-match series, each win will get the victorious side 60 points. In contrast, each win in the tough Ashes battle will only get a side 24 points as it is a five-match series.

Also read: Remembering Ranjitsinhji, the first Indian who played Test cricket for England


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