The International Cricket Council’s interim chief executive, Geoff Allardice, has hailed the World Test Championship as a “real step forward” for Test cricket before the inaugural final between New Zealand and India in Southampton starts on Friday.
The ICC has also confirmed there will be a $1.6m (£1.1m) prize for whoever wins the final, with $800,000 for the runner-up. The money will be split evenly if the match ends in a draw.
Eighteen months ago there was increasing doubt whether the WTC had a future but it seems to have been one of the few things that has benefited from the upheaval caused by the pandemic, which forced the ICC to overhaul the competition’s complex points system. The new system is so much better the change will be made permanent for the next cycle.
“Twelve months ago we were looking ahead with great uncertainty, halfway through the first cycle of the Test Championship,” Allardice said. “But as we led up to the last couple of series in the competition we had four teams in the running for the two spots in the final and in the minds of a lot of people those last three or four months painted a picture of what the future might look like for the WTC.”
According to Allardice “the aim of creating the competition four years ago was to try and bring about more interest in Test cricket globally”. He said that during the few months when India, New Zealand, Australia and England were competing for places in the final “it was obvious that the interest in certain series wasn’t just restricted to the two teams involved. It was coming from all over the cricketing world and to bring that sort of context to Test cricket has been a real step forward.”
The WTC was blighted by its byzantine points system. During the pandemic it was scrapped and replaced with a new one with teams ranked on the percentage of points they had won from those available in the games they had played. That means the ICC can make a standard number of points available in every Test, regardless of whether it is part of a two-match or a five-match series. It also makes it easier to compare teams on an ongoing basis, regardless of how many series they have played in the cycle.