With the end of the Cricket World Cup, the focus shifts to the highly-anticipated ICC World Test Championship, that kickstarts with the Ashes series in England.

The tournament, which will officially begin on August 1, 2019 will see the top nine teams competing in 71 Test matches across 27 series, played for a period of over two years.

Organised by the member boards, the matches will be played just like any bilateral series, but with the added context of a competition and one champion team. Every game in a series will count for points (allocation below) as the world’s best teams go head to head.

Opponents were scheduled by collective agreement of the competing members, with a number of the fixtures already committed within existing member rights agreements.

After the end of all games, the top two teams with most points will take part in the ICC WTC final in June 2021 in the United Kingdom where the winners will be crowned champions.


The top nine teams in the ICC Test rankings will all be a part of the Test championship. The teams include India, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh. The top nine ranked teams on the ICC Test rankings as on 31 March, 2018 were chosen.

Any matches featuring the teams outside the top nine - Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe (their suspension from ICC notwithstanding) - will not be part of the Test Championship.


Each of the nine teams in the WTC play three home and three away series. The number of matches in each series can vary between a minimum of two matches to a maximum of five matches. However, the number of matches are not the same for all teams.

England will play the highest number of Tests, with 22 scheduled, thanks to four- and five-match series against Australia, South Africa and India. Pakistan and Sri Lanka, however, will only play 13 matches each in the two-year period.

Australia and India will both play 18 matches, 15-a-piece for South Africa and West Indies and 14 each for Bangladesh and New Zealand.

Matches played by each team

Team Matches
England 22
Australia 19
India  18
South Africa 16
West Indies 15
New Zealand 14
Bangladesh 14
Pakistan 13
Sri Lanka 13

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Where will it be played?

The WTC will be played over two years across different continents starting from August 2019. The nine teams will figure in 27 series with the champion decided after 72 Test matches. The Final will be played in June 2021.

Series in the World Test Championships

Two Test series Three Test series Four Test series Five Test series
Sri Lanka vs New Zealand (2019)  India vs South Africa (2019) South Africa vs England (2019-'20)  England vs Australia (2019)
Pakistan vs Sri Lanka (2019) Australia vs New Zealand (2019-'20) Australia vs India (2020-'21) India vs England (2021)
Australia vs Pakistan (2019) England vs West Indies (2020)
West Indies vs India (2019) Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh (2020)
India vs Bangladesh (2019) England vs Pakistan (2020)
Pakistan vs Bangladesh  Bangladesh vs West Indies (2021)
Sri Lanka vs England (2020) South Africa vs Australia (2021)
West Indies vs South Africa (2020)
New Zealand vs West Indies (2020)
New Zealand vs India (2020)
Bangladesh vs Australia (2020)
Bangladesh vs New Zealand (2020)
New Zealand vs Pakistan (2020)
Pakistan vs South Africa (2021)
South Africa vs Sri Lanka (2021)
West Indies vs Sri Lanka (2021)

Points system

Each team plays six series, with each series counting for 120 points, distributed over the number of matches in a series.

For example, a two-match series will mean 60 points for each Test while a three-match series will give 40 points to each Test match. A tie will be 50% of the points available, whilst a draw will be a 3:1 points ratio.

Distribution of points

Matches  Win Tie Draw Defeat
2 60 30 20 0
3 40 20 13 0
4 30 15 10 0
5 24 12 8 0

About the points system, Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s general manager told ESPNCricinfo, “one general rule of any competition is that teams need to compete for the same number of points in total. With each team playing three series each at home and away, we decided on a consistent number of points for each series. The options were: you either just divide those points by the number of Tests being played in that series, so that every match counts, or you only count the first two Tests of a five-Test series, as an example. The overwhelming view of the member countries was they wanted every match to count.”

After the end of the current WTC, the second cycle will begin after the final and will go on till 30 April 2023.

What else is new?

The ICC has allowed Test-playing nations to have the players sport their names and numbers on their jerseys. This move is aimed at popularising the longest format of the game.

The English county sides as well as the Australian state sides playing the Sheffield Shield are used to wearing whites with names and numbers on the back of their jersey but this will be a new experience for the Indian team, who will play the second Test of the World Championship against West Indies wearing numbered white shirts.

Speaking about the jersey numbers, Allardice has said:

The way we were brought up watching the game: to know who a Test player is by his height, his build, how he walked, his batting stance - sometimes it is not easy for someone who is not well versed with cricket to work out who is who on the field, and the addition of names, and particularly numbers, will help.

We also walk around cricket grounds and we see children wearing team shirts with their favourite player’s number on the back. That happens not just in cricket but in most sports. One thing we don’t see as often is children walking around imitating Test players, so wouldn’t it be great if we started seeing children wearing white shirts with their favourite Test player’s number on the back?

Slow over-rates

Captains will no longer run the risk of being suspended for slow over-rates with the ICC deciding to instead dock points and fine the entire side for any such violations, starting with the upcoming World Test Championship.

“In World Test Championship matches, a team that is behind the required over-rate at the end of a match will have two competition points deducted for each over it is behind,” the ICC said recently.

“Captains will no longer be suspended for repeated or serious over-rate breaches. All players should be held equally responsible for slow over-rates, and as such will be fined at the same level as the captain.”

Concussion substitutes

Following a two-year trial of concussion replacements in domestic cricket, the ICC approved concussion player replacements in all formats of men’s and women’s international cricket and for First-Class cricket worldwide.

This will be included in ICC playing conditions from 1 August 2019. Decisions on replacements will continue to be made by the team medical representative and the player should be a like-for-like replacement who will need to be approved by the match referee.


(with inputs from ICC Media Zone)