The 10-year wait after the initial approval of the idea, the Test Championship is certainly adding some elements of spice to the format. The points system has added genuine interest among the fans towards the longest, most classic format of the game.
It was poetic justice to start the inaugural Test Championship with the Ashes being the first series. Australia went to England in hopes of retaining the little trophy, and after a hotly contested contest where Steve Smith and Ben Stokes stood out, retain it they did. Steve Smith and Marcus Labushchange’s batting brilliance helped Australia end the series 2-2 away from home putting them at the top of the table in the beginning.
Source: Sports Keeda
A two-match series between the Sri Lankans and New Zealand followed where both teams shared the spoils with 1 match each.
The world number one Test team came racing through as soon as their fixtures came up, whitewashing West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh in three consecutive series made of 7 Test Matches. India climbed to the top of the table after this and have remained there since.
Meanwhile, Australia won 2 more matches dominating and outplaying an inexperienced Pakistan side at home.
However, Pakistan cared little for these results as the homecoming of Test Cricket after nearly a decade was their next series as they hosted Sri Lanka for two Tests, drawing one and winning one in a historic series.
Australia continued their domination as they hosted New Zealand for three matches and annihilated them as bad as they did to Pakistan, if not worse. The Kiwis were whitewashed, pushing Australia to the second spot on the table. They are currently 64 points short of India, even though they have played 3 more matches.
The only other series played till now is the ongoing one between England and South Africa, where they have won one match each with 2 more still to go.
The ICC Test Championship is having a good pilot season as Test Cricket has been in the news consistently because of the new ranking system. It has added an element of competition to the format that was missing. Although the points system is a bit difficult to understand for the average viewer, we are sure that fans who are cricket junkies will make more elaborate understandings of how the game works.
Further Test series to be played this year part of this new tournament are Bangladesh hosted by Pakistan, although the venue is still subject to the decision of the Bangladesh board. In February, New Zealand host on-fire India. March consists of the Lankan Lions hosting the English 3 lions. In June, Bangladesh plays Australia and England play West Indies. July is also packed with West indies taking on South Africa, Sri Lanka taking on Bangladesh, and the kick-off to England hosting Pakistan. Furthermore, New Zealand will participate in series against Bangladesh, Pakistan and West indies each. The year will end with a monumental 4 match Test Series titled the Border-Gavaskar trophy between the Test giants India and Australia. This series is going to be extremely competitive if current form is to remain consistent.
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With talks of 4-day Tests, the introduction of formats like T10and the 100 and other factors, it was important that the ICC Test Championship launched in some capacity to reignite interest in the original form of the game we all love. We hope and predict that this tournament will only increase following and interest of this format and help fill more stadiums for these 5-day classics.
Feature image source: ESPNCricinfo