Shortly after winning their maiden ODI World Cup, England will be reviving an old and historic rivalry when they kick off their Ashes campaign in Birmingham on August 1, 2019.
While Ashes remains one of the most popular bilateral test series due to its historical significance, this game has an added flavor to it as it is the start of the new ICC Test Championship.
The constantly decreasing number of fans in the stadiums to watch a test match is quite visible to see and ICC decided to put some measures to bring back the excitement in Test cricket and attract more viewers.
While the concept of a test championship is not new in itself as it was initially approved by the ICC in 2010, the problem in its implementation and format meant that it had to be rescheduled on two separate occasions, once in 2013 and the next being in 2017.
One of the main aims of this format is to ensure that each bilateral test series have equal context and importance behind it, effectively giving a sense of purpose to each team.
A total of nine test nations will be taking part in the inaugural edition of the ICC Test Championship. Moreover, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and West Indies are the ones who are battling for the title.
Additionally, Ireland and Afghanistan miss out. Although Afghanistan and Ireland will continue playing test matches, those matches will not be a part of the championship.
With the deadline of 31st March 2021, each team will have to play six other teams during this period. A total of 27 series will be played while the number of matches in each series could be varied between 2-5. Here is the list of teams and their opponents in the first edition of the test championship:
Australia: Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa
Bangladesh: Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies
England: Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies
India: Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, South Africa, West Indies
New Zealand: Australia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies
Pakistan: Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka
South Africa: Australia, England, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies
Sri Lanka: Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies
West Indies: Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka
The two teams with the maximum number of points in the table will qualify for the final of the ICC Test Championship, which is to be played on 10-14 June 2021. The venue for the final is not decided yet.
Also, ICC is planning to make England as a venue for the finals. In case the final ends in a draw or tie then the team which finished with the maximum number of points will be awarded the title.