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ICC World Test Championship 2019-2021

July 18, 2019
ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 culminated with a first of a kind ODI. Its time for the traditionalists to switch to another first of a kind venture in Test format.

Right after a first of a kind ODI Final, the World Cricket is all set to step into another first of a kind kind of affair in another format. Its the commencement of long awaited ICC World Test Championship. It has taken almost a decade since the idea was first given a serious thought, postponement of the event in 2013 and 2017 editions and more than a century since the first multi team tournament in Test format for ICC to come up with a Championship for the Format.

Here’s all we need to know/remember about this novel affair in Cricket

Period : July 2019 to June 2021
Format : Partial-League with Final between the top 2 sides
Contestants : India, England, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh
Stipulation : All teams to contest 6 other teams in a Test series of 2 to 5 Tests. Each team to play 3 Test series at home and 3 series away from home.
Ranking Method : Points scoring based on result of each Test played. No points for series win. 
Points Calculation  : A total of 120 points will be up for grab for each Test Series that will be shared between the teams depending on the result of each Test and number of Tests in the Series. The lesser the number of Tests, the higher the context it will carry in the championship.
For a quick reference, here’s how the points allocation will vary depending on the number of Tests in a Series.

in Series
Points Available Points for each

Since the championship is not going to follow a complete round-robin structure, it is bound to bred certain degree of variance in playing circumstances for each team.

Variance in number and venue of Tests for each team :
Not all teams will play equal amount of Tests, nor the impact of win, loss or a draw or a tie will be the same for all teams.
England will play 22 Tests in 6 Test Series, while Australia will play 19 and India will play 18 Test each during the same number of Test Series. South Africa will play 16 and West Indies will play 15 Tests, New Zealand and Bangladesh to play 14 Tests each and Pakistan and Sri Lanka will play 13 Test each across 6 Test series during the championship.

Variance in number of Home and Away Tests:
As a result of accommodating certain degree of flexibility in scheduling for each team, there will be no uniformity in the number or even breakup of number of Tests each team will play at home and away. On one hand England will play 11 Tests at home while Pakistan and West Indies will play only 6 Test each at home. India will play 10, Australia and South Africa 9 Tests, while Bangladesh, New Zealand and Sri Lanka will play 7 Tests each at home.
Similarly, England will play the most number of Tests, 11, away from home, while Sri Lanka will play only 6 away Tests. Australia will play 10, West Indies 9, India 8, while Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa will play 7 Tests each away from home.
In terms of Percentage of Tests each team will play at their home and away from home, South Africa and India will play highest percentage of total Tests (56%) at home. West Indies, on the other hand, will play only 40% of Tests at their home. Bangladesh, England and New Zealand will play identical number of Test at home and away. Sri Lanka will play 54% of their Tests at home while Australia will play 47% and Pakistan 46% of their total Tests at their home.

Variance in Points Available per Test:
The non-uniform nature of scheduling will reflect, naturally, on Points/Test factor as well.
For instance, winning an Ashes Test will yield 24 points that will be almost as good as Pakistan and Sri Lanka playing for a tame draw in UAE that will yield 20 points to both sides. Ashes will consist of 5 Tests while Pakistan and Sri Lanka will play only 2 Tests in their series. A win in UAE for either Pakistan or Sri Lanka will yield 60 points, which will practically mean, on points table, to be as good as winning 3 Ashes Test.
Some teams, the ones playing lesser number of Tests in the Championship, will carry this advantage of earning as much from a draw as a win for another team in another series. On the average, England could earn 33 points, Australia 38 and India 40 points from a Test win; while Pakistan and Sri Lanka will carry the advantage of earning 55 points on the average from each of their Tests.
If this average is further broken down on home and away basis, Pakistan and West Indies will enjoy the maximum availability of Points per Test at home, that is, 60 points for each home Test. The least, in this context, would be England’s 33, then India’s 36 and Australia’s 40. In the same context, Australia will yield least value out of winning and away Test as they could earn only 36 points, on the average, from an Away Test. Sri Lanka on the other hand will have maximum 60 points available for each away win.

Variance in Quality of Opposition for each team:
Each team will play a different set of opponents, therefore, not every team will face same level of opposition in the championship.

Sri Lanka will enjoy the advantage of not facing off with Australia and India in this Championship, and instead, playing weaker/lesser ranked teams to complete the scheduling requirements. Similarly, Bangladesh and New Zealand will not play England and South Africa who are ranked 3rd and 4th in current ICC Test Rankings. On the other hand Australia will avoid playing only Sri Lanka and West Indies who are ranked 6 and 8, respectively, in the current rankings. Similarly, India will skip number 7 ranked Pakistan and number 6 ranked Sri Lanka.

Difficulty Index:
To sum it up, if all these variances and non-uniformity in playing conditions for each team are quantified (comparatively) and mapped on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the most difficult path, here is how the difficulty levels for teams participating in this Test Championship would look:

ICC World Test Championship 2019-2021 - Difficulty Index
ICC World Test Championship 2019-2021 

Apparently, England will face the most difficult test in this Test Championship. The next toughest would be for Pakistan (difficulty index 8.7) and then India (8.2). New Zealand and Sri Lanka, on the other hand, would enjoy the easiest path (only comparatively) during this Test Championship. 

Interested to know how teams would stack up if the same ICC Test Championship formula is applied to Test Cricket in the recent years? Find the answer here


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Discussion about ICC Rankings Update