Former skippers Mahela Jayawardene and Steve Waugh believe that the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) is a great concept and will add more excitement to the longest format of the game.
Getting underway on August 1 with the first Ashes Test in Birmingham, the inaugural WTC will see the top nine Test teams in the world compete in 71 Test matches across 27 series, played over two years. The top two teams will contest in the WTC Final in June 2021 (to be played in the UK) and the winners will be crowned ICC World Test Champions.
Former Sri Lanka skipper Jayawardene said WTC will attract a lot of interest and will keep the Test cricket “healthy”.
“We have a World Championship in other formats and I think it’s important to bring that over into Test cricket. Otherwise, it just becomes bilateral series after bilateral series. Once you bring in that concept, there will be enough competitive structure in the five-day game to make fans excited and keep them gripped over a number of years,” he wrote in his column for ICC.
“They will be looking forward to seeing their teams play when there is lots at stake. We will see where the teams rank over a period of time and who the best teams are, home and away.
“It’s quite unique. I’m pretty confident that it will attract a lot of interest. It’s important to keep the Test game healthy. We cannot be afraid of evolution to do that. This is one way of changing the game. It’s not easy to sustain three different formats but you have to give the same emphasis and focus to each one.
“The Test game produces good quality cricketers. It tests them in the right way and over a Championship season, players will have to prove their worth in a variety of situations and in every different set of conditions.”
Meanwhile, Waugh, whose winning percentage of 71.93 is the highest for any captain to have led their country in more than 10 Tests, believes their achievements would have carried even greater resonance if there had been a formal Test cricket championship in his playing days.
“I think it’s great for Test match cricket,” said Waugh.
“I played for 18 years and many people said we were the number one Test side in the world, but I think unless you hold up a trophy or you can get to that final game then you’re not really sure.
“I think Test cricket really needs this. You’ve got the T20 World Cup, the 50-over World Cup and you need something to hang your hat on if you’re the best Test team in the world.
“I think players still want to be the best Test player they can be, and the best team so this is a great way to measure it.”