Will the Test championship add prominence to the five-day format?

The much awaited ICC Worst Test Championship finally commenced earlier this month with the start of the Ashes 2019. Now with two more Test series this month – Sri Lanka v New Zealand and West Indies v India – the Test championship will really be up and running.

There have been umpteen discussions on the Test format and how to ensure that it manages to survive. The World Test Championship, after its endless alterations, appears to be a good way to keep the format alive and significant in an age where T20 cricket has taken the world by storm.

It will be interesting to see how things shape up in the next few months with plenty of Test series lined up. One of the most important things for Test cricket right now is to make it relevant. The World Cups for the ODI and T20I formats do exactly that for their respective formats. With Test cricket being only limited to bilateral series, this wasn’t happening.

The World Test Championship is hence a good step in that direction. It will continue in a two-year cycle and conclude with the final scheduled to be held in June, 2021. Two years is a long time but it can also work on the benefit of this championship. Each new Test series will now come under the aegis of the Test championship which can make a huge difference to the format’s popularity. The ICC will now have to ensure that each new Test series is promoted well and the interest in it is kept alive.

Test players around the world are excited with the commencement of the World Test Championship and feel it’s a welcome addition to the Test format and will in making it more popular. New Zealand Test skipper Kane Williamson, who is currently leading his team away from home in a fierce battle with Sri Lanka, feels that this Test championship will bring extra context into every Test match that is played henceforth.

“Every time you play any team it’s very, competitive, but now there’s that added carrot where in two years time everyone is vying for an opportunity to play in a Test Championship final, which will be a really exciting thing to be a part of,” Williamson was quoted as saying to the press ahead of the first day’s play against Sri Lanka at Galle.

In the coming months, the South Africa tour of India, England tour of New Zealand, Pakistan tour of Australia and England tour of South Africa will be the ones to really watch out for as far as engaging Test battles are concerned. With more context to these series now, it will have that extra bit of zing.

All the nine Test playing nations will now also have the incentive of climbing up the ranking ladder in the ICC Test Team Rankings as it will be the top two sides who will eventually compete in the final. Previously, moving up and down these rankings didn’t really have much significance. But things will change now as a drop from the No.2 spot to 3 can cost a team a final spot.

Hence, these will be exciting times for world and Test cricket in the next two years courtesy of the World Test Championship. Hopefully, the ICC will play its part well and ensure that fans remain engaged to this format. That, after all, is the most vital step in keeping Test cricket thriving.

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