Kolkata: The inaugural World Test Championship will be played over a two-year cycle (2019-20) with the final being held in 2021, the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed at the end of its quarterly conclave here on Thursday.
The much-awaited World Test Championship, which was first mooted in 2010 and deferred twice, will, however not see Indo-Pak clashes — unless the two teams qualify for final.
It may sound bizarre, but it is a reality that the ICC has decided to live with. Under the new format that is still being worked out, the top nine Test-playing nations will play a maximum of six series, comprising of three Tests each on home-and-away basis against six other nations over a two-year period. It amounts to 36 Tests in a course of 24 months.
Only Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland — who will not be part of the Test Championship — will engage in bilateral exchanges during this period.
Apart from Pakistan, India will not play another nation at all in course of the championship. Each of the nine countries will have the same privilege. Which team plays whom and when will be largely dictated by the new Future Tours Programme (FTP) which has been accepted by all ICC member nations.
If India and Pakistan both make it to the final, the two teams will lock horns for the title at a neutral venue, which is yet to be decided.
With the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) claiming compensation from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for not honouring an MoU under which India were supposed to play six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023, and no such matches figuring in the new FTP cycle, with the issue being under arbitration, the ICC has chosen to be discreet.
“In the case of India and Pakistan we have been a little pragmatic. In the first cycle, they are not playing Test matches,” ICC chief executive Dave Richardson said.
The ICC is hoping that the neighbouring countries will be able to compete against each other in the second cycle of the World Test Championship, from 2021-23.
At the ICC Code of Conduct review, members were unanimous in their view that it was time to have stricter and heavier sanctions for ball-tampering and other offences which were indicative of a lack of respect, including use of abusive language, send-offs and dissent to an umpire’s decision etc.
Three legends of the game — Richie Richardson, Allan Border and Shaun Pollock — have been roped in for this purpose. They will work closely with ICC’s Cricket Committee, headed by Anil Kumble, to suggest measures to curb on-field indiscipline.