Wasim Khan, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) General Manager — Cricket, offers his perspective on the World Test Championship and the way forward.
On ICC’s perception of WTC after two cycles
I think we are pretty much on target with what we set out to achieve. There is now an established context for red-ball cricket that fans, players, and teams understand and embrace. There is also anticipation for the season ahead. We just had a successful WTC final between Australia and India that saw a packed venue and millions following it on broadcast and digital channels. Now we have the next cycle kicking off with the Ashes and the West Indies-India Tests.
On the biggest gain for Test cricket due to WTC
The fact that fans are following the fortunes of their favourite teams and that we are seeing everyone eagerly waiting to see who their team will play against over the next two-year cycle tells us that Test cricket has been reinvigorated through the WTC.
On whether WTC has made Test cricket relevant
I think the sight of Pat Cummins holding the Test Mace at The Oval provides quite a lot of relevance and context. That image—at the end of a final that was decided on the fifth day—holds a lot of meaning. After the WTC final, Cummins spoke about his team’s journey over the past years and what it means to them. I am sure it is the same for all participating teams each time they set out at the beginning of a two-year WTC cycle— there is a clear goal, and that is to be there at the final and to win it. Right up until the last round, a few teams were in the mix to make it to the final, which created excitement and relevance.
On how ICC can make bigger boards face smaller teams in WTC
The WTC is based on bilateral arrangements between Member Boards. We engage with Cricket Boards and support the creation of the FTP. Each Board will come into that process with their own objectives, both from a cricket and financial perspective. The more established members are very aware of the need to provide further opportunities for nations that may not be gaining as much exposure in Test cricket and will endeavour to accommodate them.
On how the points system and tournament format can be made friendlier for the fans
Currently, six series over a two-year period enable quality, meaningful cricket to be played, while understanding that there are other formats to accommodate within the game. The players feedback and the fact that every game is important from a point perspective make it easier for everyone to follow. In addition, we were delighted at the viewing numbers and the full houses at the Oval. As for the points system, it is not complicated. You get a certain number of points for a win (12), a tie (6), or a draw (4), and the top two teams who have gained the most percentage points from what was available to them make it through to the final.
The system is also fair since it gives an equal chance to all teams, irrespective of the number of matches they play in a cycle. Of course, we will continue to look at how we keep improving what we do, and the WTC will be no different from that philosophy.
On the likelihood of Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland’s inclusion in WTC
The Member Boards have decided to persist with the nine-team format for the time being. We will continually review this.
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