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Opening Ashes Test marks the start of World Test Championship
World Test Championship

Opening Ashes Test marks the start of World Test Championship

The commencement of the upcoming Ashes series between traditional foes Australia and England at Edgbaston on Thursday also officially kicks off the World Test Championship organized by the International Cricket Council.

The competition is primarily aimed at providing context to bilateral series and attracting greater viewership to the conventional five-day format.

What the Championship entails

The next two years will see the top nine Test-playing nations play 27 series, comprising a grand total of 72 Tests, among themselves to decide the best team out of the lot.

The participants include Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies with the tournament expected to serve as the Test equivalent of the World Cup.

By the end of the two-year cycle, the teams who will top the nine-team table will face off in a final at Lord's in June 22 to determine the ultimate title-holder of the Test Championship.

Format and points system

To compensate for the disparity between home and away conditions, each team will play three home and three away series consisting of two, three, four or five Test matches.

A team can earn a maximum of 120 points equally spread over the number of series, thus this nullifies any advantage of having a five-Test series over a three-match campaign since the points are divided proportionally.

A drawn match will see points awarded on a 3:1 points ratio with each side attaining 20 points while a tied contest results in 50 per cent of the points available.

The Test games that involve Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe will not be counted towards the calculation of points in the World Test Championship.

'Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport'

The response from current cricketers to the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship has been encouraging and they have declared their support to watching the longest format thrive.

"Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport," said England's James Anderson in an ICC statement.

"It is the very essence of cricket and the majority of players want to strive to play the purest form of the game. The ICC World Test Championship is another brilliant initiative for the sport, adding context and relevance to every Test series. Every Test matters, but even more so now."

Australia captain Tim Paine was excited by the fact the ICC was adamant at preserving the sanctity of Test cricket.

"If the World Test Championship helps to ensure that all countries make Tests a high priority then that has to be good news for the game in general and the continuing health of the format in particular."

India skipper Virat Kohli believed his team possessed the quality to win the ICC World Test Championship based on their present form.

"We are awaiting the ICC World Test Championship with great enthusiasm as it adds context to the longest format of the game.

"Test cricket is very challenging and coming out on top in the traditional form is always highly satisfying. The Indian team has done really well in recent years and will be fancying its chances in the championship."