ODI World Cup champions England will play maximum 22 matches in the tournament and Bangladesh are the only other team apart from New Zealand that will not play against them in the tournament
The cricket fans around the world have enjoyed one of the pulsating World Cups with arguably the best final in a one-day international throughout the last one and a half months. But, the follower of classic format of the game will have some more exciting time ahead as International Cricket Council is going to host a Test Championship from the next month.
Unlike other tournaments, it will be played for a lengthy duration of almost two years as the selective bilateral Test series of the competitors will be counted as the games of the grand tournament. For the cricket romantics , the tournament is going to start in the best possible manner as it is going to be commenced with the Ashes series- the oldest rivalry in the game- at England from August 1.
The top nine Test teams- Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa and West Indies will feature in the tournament but all these teams will not play against all the other opponents.
Rather, these teams will play six series- three at home and three away- against mutually selected opponents and the top two teams will play in the final match of the tournament in June 2021 in England. If that match ends in a stalemate, the team that has more points in group stage will be awarded the championship.
Not only the team will play only against six opponents, they will also play unequal number of matches as the series will be comprised between two to five-match series.
However, for the sake of tournament each of the series is given the equal worth of 120 points regardless of number of Tests. Hence, each Test of a five-match series will have total 24 points, while each of the matches for the series of four, three, and two matches will have 30, 40 and 60 points.
The winners of those matches will get the full points while in case of tie the teams will share the point equally and for a draw the teams will get one third of the allocated points for a match.
In that way, not only the parity of every series will be ensured but also by weighing on each Test match rather than counting only the series win will make sure there will be no ‘dead rubber’ and encourage the teams to go for winning in each and every match.
ICC’s attempt of reviving the popularity of Test match and spreading its horizon will not clash as the three Test playing nations- Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland- will not stop playing the longest format despite being omitted from the Test Championship.
These teams are scheduled to play Tests against one another and also against some of the Championship sides according to the ICC’s Future Tours Programme (FTP).Although, the results of these games will have no effect on the Championship, they will be counted in measuring the Test rankings. Zimbabwe’s future is uncertain, however, after its suspension by the ICC recently.As inevitably, there will be some other series even between the Championship sides in next two years which will not be counted as part of the tournament. For example, England will play two matches in New Zealand this November, but that series will have no bearing to the World Championship. Ironically, these two teams will not play any other series in the tournament.
ODI World Cup champions England will play maximum 22 matches in the tournament and Bangladesh are the only other team apart from New Zealand that will not play against them in the tournament.
India will play 18 matches and Bangladesh, who do not play a lot of Test matches like other teams, will play 14 matches, one more than that of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the teams that will play least matches in the tournament.
Interestingly, Bangladesh’s campaign will be confined in Asia as they will play all their away series against Asian sides while host their three home series against non-Asian sides.
The Tigers will start their campaign through a two-match away series against India in November. They will play their next series against another sub-continent side Pakistan and that away series, which is supposed to take place in January next year, will also feature two Tests.
Bangladesh will host Australia for a two-match series in February to complete their third round of the championship.
According to the FTP, after finishing two series against Zimbabwe and Ireland, Bangladesh will play their next round of the championship in July 2020 in Sri Lanka. Following that three-match series the Tigers will host New Zealand for a two-match series in August 2020.
The final round of the championship for the Tigers will take place in January 2021, when they will host West Indies for a three-match series. Other than England, South Africa will be the only team that Bangladesh will not face in the championship.
If these sets of series and the tournament go according to the plan it will not only be huge boost for a country like Bangladesh but also for the whole game in global perspective.
But, this is not the first time ICC is planning such an event and their two earlier plans in 2010 and 2013 were not successful.
So, the long-awaited tournament is a big challenge for the game’s global governing body and even if they may finish it they will face some criticism from the cricketing fraternity.
The teams have chosen opponents mutually and as a result many teams may play against relatively weaker opponents than others- is a big loophole in the format and another big issue is the equal weight on the win of home and away Tests. It is a known fact from the time immemorial that in most games, especially in cricket, the away matches are tougher than the home ones; hence the equal weight on them may not justify the outcomes.
But, the cricket lovers will fasten their seat belts amid all these anomalies and will eagerly look forward for the event that will once again elevate the most glorious form of the game.