World Test Championship hasn’t achieved what it intended to: ICC chairman

The International Cricket Council’s newly-elected chairman Greg Barclay dropped a hint that the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) could well be the last one as smaller members can’t afford Test cricket championship anymore.

Tim Paine shakes hands with Virat Kohli after Australia claimed victory during day five of the second match in the Test series between Australia and India at Perth Stadium on December 18, 2018.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The International Cricket Council’s newly-elected chairman Greg Barclay on Monday said that the ambitious World Test Championship hasn’t achieved what it intended to and the disruption caused by Covid-19 has only highlighted its “shortcomings“.

The World Test Championship (WTC) points system will be amended, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to decide the finalists on the basis of the percentage of points earned from those they contested for.

Has the Test Championship given the format a fillip that it was meant to? “In short, I don’t think so. The Covid [pandemic] has probably highlighted its shortcomings of the championship,” Barclay, who took charge earlier this month, said during a virtual media conference.

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”...the issues that we have already got, I wonder whether some of it was because of an attempt to develop a Test Championship, clearly designed to drive interest back into Test cricket, provide a bit of context and relevance around the Test matches,” he added.

Not fitting the purpose

While it was good in theory, Barclay feels the move has probably flopped in practice. “From an idealist’s point of view, probably it had a lot of merits but practically, I do disagree, I am not sure whether it has achieved what it intended to do,” he said.

Barclay dropped a hint that the inaugural WTC could well be the last one as smaller members can’t afford Test cricket championship anymore.

“My personal view is let’s get through with the little bit that we can in this Covid-19, with the reallocation of points and all that.

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”...but once we have done that, let’s go back to the drawing board as I am not quite sure whether it (WTC) entirely fits the purpose and has achieved what it intended to after being conceptualised four to five years back.

“I think we need to look at it in context of the calendar and not put cricketers in a situation where it’s a lot worse and not going to help us,” Barclay asserted.

He revealed that he does have support among some full member nations on the matter.

“Yeah, I think there would be some countries. It is difficult for some of the full members as they simply can’t afford to play Test cricket.

“Test cricket has got its legacy and I am a purist but I do accept that as much as I want to keep it as it is, less and fewer countries can afford that arrangement and can play it.

“Very few countries can make it work from a financial point of view,” Barclay said.

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Domestic leagues here to stay

While Barclay believes that T20 leagues are here to stay, as they assist the financial health of the member boards, he wants bilateral series with context.

“My view is that I think all forms of cricket need to be taken into account. You are right, the calendar is increasingly becoming congested and something has to give in somewhere.”

”... It is a sort of compromise that member nations need to strike but I do respect that each country has the right to develop its domestic league given it meets the ICC requirements and is properly sanctioned,” he said.

“There is a demand from the playing point of view and commercial partnering perspective. So let’s accept that domestic leagues are here to stay and they have been tremendously contributing to the growth of the really exciting product like the IPL, BBL and CPL.”

”...it’s an incredibly difficult juggling act to get in there and also, we need to have enough conversations regarding players’ health safety. I don’t think we have had enough conversations.

“Some of the focus needs to be on the integrity aspect of the game and we need to have competitions which are relevant and have context.”

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