With an eye on hosting the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) in June next year, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is reportedly considering splitting points for unplayed games in the current cycle.
The WTC was launched by ICC last year to lend context to bilateral Test series, giving the format its standalone showpiece like the World Cup in other formats. As per the format, the nine top-ranked sides are scheduled to play six series over two years with the top two making the final at Lord’s.
The final of the inaugural Championship is scheduled to take place in June next year. There were apprehensions that the final might get postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic but the ICC has not given up on it yet. And to ensure that the final takes place in time, the governing body is contemplating several measures at the moment.
Splitting the points for the games which had to be postponed is one of two options to be considered by its cricket committee next month, on how to manage the points system in a league disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to ESPNcricinfo, the other option considers only those matches actually played by the end of March and bases final positions on the percentage of points sides have won from those that they’ve contested.
The governing body wants to have a clear picture on the matter by the time the next WTC commitment begins, with West Indies’ two-Test series in New Zealand in December this year.
A total of six Test series had to be postponed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. As things stand, it isn’t clear when will those series be rescheduled. With the WTC cycle set to end in March 2021, the chances of the postponed series being squeezed in within the ongoing cycle looks highly unlikely.
Splitting the points would be within the regulations as they stand, whereby all Tests in the cycle that can’t be played (through no fault of either side) are deemed draws. In that scenario, both sides receive a third of the points available for a Test (120 points are available for every series). On the other hand, basing it on percentages of points played for would require a tweak to existing regulations.
India currently top the WTC points table, having played four series, followed by Australia who have played one fewer. England have played four, including home series against West Indies and Pakistan in July-August, and are third. Pakistan and New Zealand have played four and three series respectively. On the other hand, Bangladesh, South Africa, West Indies and Sri Lanka have played only two of their six scheduled series so far.