The International Cricket Council (ICC) is set to proceed with plans to stage an inaugural World Test Championship final in 2021, despite the disruption caused to the sporting calendar by the coronavirus pandemic. The ICC plans for the championship includes giving some context to dozens of test series taking place around the world every year.
“Now they are working out what to do with the points from the series that haven’t been played,” Tom Harrison, CEO, England and Wales Cricket Board, said on earlier this week. “And how to distribute those points, which is obviously going to be completely material in terms of who ends up playing in that final.” Harrison also said that he has been notified by the ICC that the WTC final is “proceeding as scheduled.”
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Having been forced to cancel its inaugural competition in both 2013 and ’17, the five-day game will finally have its own standalone showpiece to go with World Cup finals in the ODI and T20 formats. The World Twenty20 finals, scheduled for October this year, have already been cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The two ICC World Test Championship matches will be played at the back of three T20Is, which will be staged in Auckland (December 18), Hamilton (December 20) and Napier (December 22). In the ICC T20I Team Rankings, fourth-ranked Pakistan (261 points) leads sixth-ranked New Zealand by 19 points. Australia leads the pack with 275 points, followed by England (271) and India (266).
The nine test countries playing the competition were scheduled to play six series home and away over a two-year period starting in 2019. The top two teams in the standings would then meet in the final in June 2021. These are currently India and Australia, while England, India and Pakistan have played four series each, four countries – Sri Lanka, West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh – have only played two.
With coronavirus restrictions in place globally and varying from country to country, all fixtures are unlikely to take place. Harrison said England was eager to host the final and that the ICC’s preference would be that it took place at Lord’s, where the 50-over World Cup final was staged last year. However, the current situation “changes everything”, Harrison admitted.
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