The International Cricket Council on Monday officially launched the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC).
Getting underway on August 1 with the first Ashes Test in Birmingham, the WTC will see the top nine Test teams in the world - Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies - compete in 71 Test matches across 27 series, played over two years; with the top two teams contesting the WTC Final on June 2021 (to be played in the UK) and the winners crowned ICC World Test Champions.
With points available for every single game, each team will play three home and three away series. Each series counts for 120 points, distributed over the number of matches in a series. For example, a two-match series will mean 60 points for each Test while a three-match series will give 40 points to each Test match. A tie will be 50 per cent of the points available, whilst a draw will be a 3:1 points ratio.
The matches will be played just like any bilateral series, but with the added context of a competition and one champion team.
The number of matches in each series can vary between a minimum of two matches, to a maximum of five matches. The first cycle of the WTC consists of only five-day matches and will include day-night matches, subject to bilateral and mutual agreement between the opponents. Only matches identified as part of the WTC will count towards the championship.
"We are awaiting the ICC World Test Championship with great enthusiasm as it adds context to the longest format of the game," said India's skipper Virat Kohli. "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."
Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager - Cricket Operations said that 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.