ICC WTC official logo
|Administrator||International Cricket Council|
|Number of teams||9|
|2019–21 ICC World Test Championship|
The ICC World Test Championship is a league competition for Test cricket run by the International Cricket Council (ICC), started on 1 August 2019. It is intended to be the premier championship for Test cricket. ICC World Test Championship is keeping in line with ICC's goal of having one pinnacle tournament for each of the three formats of international cricket.
The original plans to hold the competition in 2013, replacing the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, were abandoned. It was rescheduled for June 2017, with a second Test championship to take place in India in Feb-March 2021. The top four ranked teams on 31 December 2016 – the cut-off date set by the ICC – would play the three-match Test championship. There would have been two semi-finals and the winners play the final. However, in January 2014 the ICC World Test Championship was cancelled and the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy was reinstated.
In October 2017, the ICC announced that a Test league had been agreed by its members, which would involve the top nine teams playing series over two years with the top two teams qualifying for a World Test League Championship Final. The first ICC World Test Championship started after the 2019 Cricket World Cup from 1 August 2019, with the Ashes series. The second ICC World Test Championship will run from July 2021 to June 2023.
This championship was first proposed in 2009, when the ICC met the MCC to discuss a proposed Test match championship. Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe was one of the main brains behind this proposal.
The idea of a Test championship was considered by the ICC Chief Executives' Committee at a meeting at their headquarters in Dubai in mid-September 2010. ICC spokesperson Colin Gibson said that much more would be revealed after the meeting, and that if the championship was held in England, then the favoured final venue would be Lord's. As expected, the ICC approved the plan and said that the first tournament would be held in England and Wales in 2013. The format of the tournament was also announced. It would comprise an inaugural league stage, played over a period of four years, with all ten current Test cricket nations (Australia, India, England, South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh) participating. After the league stage the top four teams will take part in the play-offs, with the final determining the Test cricket champions.
There was a debate as to whether the play-off would take place between the bottom two teams or the top four teams, but the latter was unanimously chosen by the board. It was also announced that the tournament would replace the ICC Champions Trophy. No decision had been made concerning how to decide the outcome of drawn matches in the knock-out stages.
However, in 2011, the ICC announced that the Test Championship would not take place until 2017, and that the 2013 tournament would be cancelled. This was due to financial problems within the board, and its commitment to its sponsors and broadcasters. England and Wales, the original hosts of this cancelled tournament were awarded the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy instead, the tournament that the Test Championship was intended to replace. This drew widespread criticism; both Greg Chappell and Graeme Smith criticised the ICC, saying that postponing the Test Championship was a wrong and unjustified thing. The Guardian reported that this postponement was a blow to Lord's which had been expected to host the final.
At the ICC Chief Executives' meeting in April 2012, it confirmed that the ICC Champions Trophy would be last held in 2013 with the inaugural Test Championship play-offs being scheduled for June 2017. The ICC said that there would be only one trophy for each format of the game, which meant that the Champions Trophy would no longer take place since the Cricket World Cup is the premier event for 50-over cricket.
The top 9 teams of the 12 Test cricket playing nations will compete in the first tournament.