India will kickstart their second series in the World Test Championship (WTC) on October 2 against South Africa. India are currently on top of the table with 120 points as they won the two-match Test series against West Indies 2-0. India will start favourites in the Test series against South Africa and would look for maximum 120 points again by whitewashing South Africa 3-0.
Although WTC has made Test cricket exciting, there are apparent loopholes in the tournament. Cricwizz takes a look at five demerits of WTC.
A team can earn a maximum of 120 points in a Test series, irrespective of the number of Tests played in the series. So, if a team plays a two-match Test series, it can earn 60 points on winning each Test. The points get divided into 40, 30, 24 for each Test win if it is a 3, 4 or 5-match Test series.
Here, a two-match Test series is advantageous as winning two Tests is easy than winning all 5 Tests in a 5-match Test series to bag full 120 points.
For example, India grabbed full 120 points after beating West Indies 2-0 in two-match Test series. But Australia and England earned only 24 points per Test win despite winning two Tests each in the five-match Ashes series.
In the long run, as the championship nears its end, this lop-sided points system can come to haunt England and Australia as they usually play 5-match Ashes series.
Only six series
Each of 9 countries – India, Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies, England, South Africa, Bangladesh, New Zealand – in WTC will play six series each, three at home, and three away. Each team will play against a few higher-ranked teams and a few lower-ranked teams.
Some memorable and hard-fought Test series does not feature as part of World Test Championship. For example, India vs Pakistan could have been played at a neutral ground. Although the two nations don’t play a bilateral series, they play all ICC tournaments featuring the two nations.
Similarly, England do not play New Zealand in WTC. New Zealand are tough competitors in Test cricket and has given England a run for their money before in the longer version of the game.
No knockout except final
9 teams are fighting for just the top two places in the table for a place in the final.
If any two teams take a big lead midway during the WTC, then it will be demotivating for other teams to try and catch up with them. Then, the whole point of making Test cricket alive would fall flat as the WTC would become boring, knowing well that the top two teams have already qualified for the final.
The remaining series would be just of academic interest.
It would have been more logical to have semi-finals so that four teams out of 9 will make it to the knockouts. Then, all 9 teams will fight tooth and nail for a top-four finish like how it happens in IPL.
New entrants will feel left out
Afghanistan created history recently by posting a memorable win in a Test match against Bangladesh in the latter’s den. It was Afghanistan’s third Test in their history and emulated Australia in winning two Tests in their first three Test matches.
But despite Afghanistan’s brilliant show, it has no bearing in WTC. Shouldn’t a defeat by a team outside WTC dent the losing team’s chances in the championship?
It could have made Bangladesh less complacent against Afghanistan and spiked interest in the match.
Afghanistan have shown they are no pushovers and have pushed for a berth in the next WTC, if it happens again.
The WTC could end in a farcical draw
The whole point of having a WTC is to find one champion team who survives through the two-year duration of the tournament and comes out on top. But it all could end in a farcical draw if the final produces no result. The trophy will then be shared by the finalists.
So, there is a Test championship going on where there can be two winners?
A lower-quality finalist may end up just playing for a draw in the final to share the trophy instead of going all guns blazing. Hence, the final would serve nothing but a bland dish.
Why not have a three-Test series final to decide the real winner?
Two years, too long?
A lot can happen in two years. A strong, competitive team can lose a few star players to retirement or injuries and may end up losing form all of a sudden. It happened to India post the 2011 World Cup win when they were trounced 4-0 in Test series in Australia and England despite boasting ageing stars such as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
The same team who dominated the table in the 1st year may see itself in the bottom in the 2nd year.
Obviously, these factors were not taken into consideration when strategising for WTC.
Should there have been other parametres to count the good show by a team in the 1st year and carry it forward the next year?
As it’s just the inaugural WTC, the ICC would probably come up with better plans and strategies the next time they host such a championship.