January 31, 2023



World Test Championship final hinges on England playing this summer | Sport

2 min read

The prospect of the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final taking place in 2021 will hinge on whether England can salvage a cricket season this year and get their home series against West Indies and Pakistan played.

The International Cricket Council announced on Thursday that, following a conference call with its various national chief executives in response to the Covid-19 situation, decisions on whether to postpone the men’s T20 World Cup in October, the women’s World Cup in February and the WTC final next June have all been deferred.

But while Australia and New Zealand, respective hosts of the first two tournaments, may wait as late as July to make final decisions, the fate of the WTC final could come sooner when the ECB establishes how much of its summer is damaged.

The nine teams in the WTC need to have played six series apiece by the time the top two – currently India and Australia – play off for the trophy at Lord’s in June 2021 and, though a number are already starting to be postponed, the southern summer later in the year offers an outside chance of playing catch-up.

Joe Root’s England side have played two series but are already in arrears after their tour of Sri Lanka was abandoned in March. Should they fail to host West Indies and Pakistan at home this year – both must be a minimum of two Tests – all three series would need to be played on the road next winter, on top of a five-Test visit to India from January.

“The World Test Championship final next year lives and dies by whether England can host international cricket this summer,” one chief executive told the Guardian. “If England fall three series behind, it’s done.”

The ICC conceded that the future tours programme will now need to be redrawn up to the year 2023 regardless while the chair of its medical committee, Dr Peter Harcourt, went on to stress the challenge in staging the two global tournaments.

Harcourt said: “Our next step is to create a roadmap for the resumption of international cricket which will include a criteria for decision-making and a checklist for what needs to happen. This will consider everything from player preparation to government restrictions and advisories and ‘bio-bubbles’. The scale and complexity of getting cricket started again cannot be underestimated.”

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