World Test Championship 2: Rules, Teams, and Schedules
The second edition of the World Test Championship will start from August 4 with India’s 5-match series against England. The pandemic hit the first season, and the points had to be adjusted accordingly. New Zealand was the deserving champion but, there were criticisms over the whole structure. As a result, this season will see a modified points system.
Each team will get 12 points for a win, 4 for a draw, and 6 for a tie. Earlier, each series had 120 points irrespective of the number of Test matches, and that gave birth to controversies and confusion. Teams will lose 1 point for slow over-rate. ICC’s acting chief executive officer Geoff Allardice went on to explain, “Instead of each series being worth the same number of points, 120, irrespective of whether the series is played over two Tests or five Tests, the next cycle will see each match being worth the same number of points – a maximum of 12 per match. Teams will be ranked on the percentage of available points they won from the matches they have played. The aim was to try and simplify the points system and to allow teams to be meaningfully compared on the table at any.”
Nine teams will gear up for the next cycle of the World Test Championship. Let’s have a look at the teams and their schedules.
New Zealand became the first side to qualify for the final of the first edition of the World Test Championship. They emerged victorious after beating India and would start as favourites this time. They will play 13 matches in total, and with away tours in the subcontinents, they will have to work on their spin attack. New Zealand, otherwise, can give trouble to anyone in the contemporary cricket world in the longest format of the game. Their pace attack comprised of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson is one of the best. The batting has enough depth and experience in the batting as well. New Zealand will be highly ambitious and try to continue with its good run.
- Total matches – 13
- Home: Bangladesh (2), South Africa (2), Sri Lanka (2)
- Away: India (2), England (3), Pakistan (2)
Let’s talk about India now. After dramatic ups and downs, especially during the Australia tour, India was expected to give a tough fight to New Zealand in the finale. But the dreams were crushed. Indians ended as the runners-up of the inaugural season of the WTC despite reaching the final stage as favourites. This time Kohli’s men will be more careful to claim the title. India’s journey for the second WTC will start next week with their 5-match Test series against England. There are already doubts over the availability of several players like Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw. Moreover, India hasn’t fixed its opening combination yet. However, the Indians will highly depend on their bowling unit. Their fast-bowling depth and the middle-order batting positions are game-changers. India will get a multiple home series and will look forward to trouble the visitors on the spin-friendly tracks.
- Total matches – 19
- Home: Against New Zealand (2), Sri Lanka (3), Australia (4)
- Away: Against England (5), South Africa (3), Bangladesh (2)
Australia began its first WTC campaign well but failed to beat India at home. They slumped to a historic defeat at Gabba and lost the last chance of making it to the final. For Australia, the 2019 Ashes was their only away series in the first cycle of the WTC. This edition will see them playing away series in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India. No wonder these will not be a cakewalk. For Australia, batting is their core strength, especially in Steve Smith and Marcus Labuschagne. But they have to balance the side with the away tours in subcontinents in line. The spin area needs to be addressed. They can rely on their pace-bowling unit led by Pat Cummins. For Tim Paine, The Ashes will be a test of captaincy.
- Total matches – 18
- Home: England (5), West Indies (2), South Africa (3)
- Away: Pakistan (2), Sri Lanka (2), India (4)
In the last WTC cycle, Joe Root led England to 11 Test wins, but the next cycle would be a tough task. England will face India in their first assignment of the second edition of WTC starting from August 4. After the first 50-over World Cup triumph in 2019, England was expected to display a good show in the World Test Championship. They did well, but it wasn’t good enough to be at the top. England’s series against India will be followed by an away series against Australia, clearly making things grim. A lot will depend on their fast-bowling attack, which is full of depth and variety. James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, and Jofra Archer (now back in action for Sussex) will have pivotal roles to play. One cannot miss Chris Woakes and Sam Curran too.
- England – 21 matches
- Home: Against India (5), New Zealand (3), South Africa (2)
- Away: Against Australia (5), West Indies (2), Pakistan (3)
South Africa would not like to recall what happened in the last cycle of the WTC. They had three skippers in Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, and Dean Elgar, and the most turbulent administrative period too over the last two years. They ended at fifth place in the points table, which is not bad on paper albeit. Australia postponed their tour of South Africa in between following the pandemic concerns. There were batting collapses which would be the main addressing issue this time. They went for some experiments, which did not work in most of the cases. Stabilizing the batting positions and combination will be a prime factor for South Africa. The pace attack is close to unbeatable with the names like Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, and Anrich Nortje in it. Moreover, the schedule looks to favour their pros too.
- Total matches – 15
- Home: India (3), Bangladesh (2), West Indies (2)
- Away: New Zealand (2), England (3), Australia (3)
Pakistan had their share of moments like Naseem Shah’s hattrick and Hasan Ali’s brilliance that helped the side seal a couple of comeback wins. However, back-to-back defeats followed, and there was hardly any chance left for the final qualification. Their away form has been worrying, which will continue to be a problem. Apart from that, top-order is another prime area of concern for the Pakistan side, led by Babar Azam. They need to finalize their opening combination as well, especially against the bouncing ball. The middle-order is way more impressive, and the transition of Mohammad Rizwan and Fawad Alam has made the situation better for Pakistan. They need to work on their spin department.
- Total matches – 14
- Home: Australia (2), New Zealand (2), England (3)
- Away: West Indies (3), Bangladesh (2), Sri Lanka (3)
Sri Lanka won their first match of the cycle and then had to wait till the last one. Sri Lanka cricket is going through a rough phase, and every area seems like a concerning factor for them on the international stage. Primarily, they will have to work in their batting department as only Angelo Mathews has an average above 140. However, Dimuth Karunaratne was consistent in the last cycle, and the team would look up to him. Another problem Sri Lanka have to deal with is the injury-prone fast bowling unit. Fortunately, the Sri Lanka spin attack still looks better, thanks to the emergence of the left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya. There are also a few interesting names, including Praveen Jayawickrama, Ramesh Mendis, and Dhananjaya de Silva. But these players lack experience.
- Total matches-13
- Home: Australia (2), Pakistan (2), West Indies (2)
- Away: Bangladesh (2), India (3), New Zealand (2)
West Indies managed to get only one success in the first cycle of the WTC, and that too against Bangladesh. They expectedly finished second from the bottom. The good part of the series was the introduction of Kyle Mayers. Only four West Indies batsmen scored hundreds during the tournament played over the last two years. No wonder they need more consistency at the top for big innings and partnerships. Jason Holder will be highly trusted upon since he can now freely play his game. The bowling department is well balanced with experienced and young players. This gives depth and variety. Kemar Roach continues to lead the fast-bowling pack with Holder, Shannon Gabriel, and Alzarri Joseph. There are spinners like Rahkeem Cornwall, Roston Chase, along with part-time handy options.
- Total matches – 13
- Home: Pakistan (3), England (2), Bangladesh (2)
- Away: South Africa (2), Sri Lanka (2), Australia (2)
Bangladesh ended at the bottom of the points table in the inaugural season of the WTC. Nothing went in their favour. However, Bangladesh has all the potential to surprise one and all and, that will be their x-factor. Bangladesh missed Shakib Al Hasan last time as he played only one Test. They also could not play 5 of their 12 matches because of the pandemic. Things should be different and better this time. They will expect to hit the ground at least in all of the fixtures as scheduled. Bangladesh will rely on their blend of experience and youth. This has always worked for the side and, with a new cycle ahead, Bangladesh will try to make the squad as much balanced as possible.
- Total matches – 12
- Home: Pakistan (2), Sri Lanka (2), India (2)
- Away: New Zealand (2), South Africa (2), West Indies (2)