Evolution of Cricket - What led to ICC Test Championship
The game of cricket started with the longer format and the true essence of the game lies there. Over 2000 Test matches have been played at the International level in the last century and a half, with the highest quality and entertainment. We have seen some of the greatest players to have graced the game doing very well in Tests.
Sir Don Bradman, who is regarded as the greatest of all time never played anything except Test matches and averaged a whopping 99.94 with 29 centuries to his name in 80 innings.
The game evolved and the One Day Internationals came into existence in the 1970s. But the number of overs varied from 40 to 60 initially but got fixed to 50 overs per side. This change led to a lot of alterations in the way both the batsman as well as the bowler would approach the game owing to the limited number of overs. Defensive style of play took a backseat and batsman started playing some attacking shots.
In spite of all this, there was a strike of balance between bat and ball until the 2000s. A 220+ score was more than enough to defend in those days in contrast to 330+ these days. Even though they had to play attacking cricket, they stuck to their basics and played conventional shots. Good bowling was respected a lot in those days. ODI World Cup became the most prestigious trophy which started in 1975. Then came T20 Internationals!
The 20 over match format more often called as the T20s came into the picture in the mid-2000s to get more people to watch and the inaugural T20 World Cup that was held in South Africa in 2007 where the format got a huge response across the globe. With the advent of T20 leagues like the Big Bash League(BBL) and the Indian Premier League(IPL), the format became very popular among the masses.
The main reason for the success of the format was that it used to provide you with entertainment as well as finish in under 4 hours. It was all about power hitting irrespective of the technique a batsman possesses. The bowlers started to get punished with unconventional shot making.
Even the best bowler in the longer format was taken to cleaners. This meant most of the bowlers went with a defensive mindset when bowling and suddenly this format turned Batsman friendly. Getting to 200 in 20 overs was no big deal now and this meant the pressure was directly on the bowlers. Only a few bowlers evolved into a T20 specialist.
The stadiums were filled, everyone enjoyed but this made a huge impact on Test matches. The crowd started getting bored with the longer format and the stands started going empty. Not everyone had the same impression on Test matches as they had before. The International Cricket Council (ICC), keeping all this in point of view thought of coming up with a world tournament to rejuvenate the longer format and came up with a concept called ‘Test Championships’.
The ‘World Test Championship’ which will start in 2019 will be played over two-year cycles meaning the round robin matches will be played between July 2019 and April 2021. Nine out of twelve Test-playing nations will take part in this as they contest in 27 series in this period. Every team will have to play three-Test series at home as well as overseas. The top two teams with a maximum number of points at the end of two years will play the final which is scheduled between June 10-14,2021 in England.
The championship kicks off with the Ashes which will be played in England and ends in Sri Lanka when the hosts face the Carribean challenge. If the final of the championship ends in a draw, the team with the highest points would be declared the winner. This move should strengthen the longer format as well as bring back the excitement in fans as the top 9 teams fight for the trophy.