WTC – COVID-19 affected games: ICC plans to split points
The ICC is considering splitting points for games not played in the current World Test Championship (WTC) cycle, as it prepares to host the final in June next year. That is one of two options to be considered by its Cricket Committee next month, on how to manage the points system in a league disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic; the other option considers only those matches actually played by the end of March and bases final positions on the percentage of points sides have won from those that they’ve contested.
A significant number of Tests have been postponed this year because of the pandemic. In many cases, it isn’t clear when they might be rescheduled to, let alone whether they can be squeezed in within this WTC league cycle, which concludes at the end of March 2021.
Splitting the points would be within the regulations as they stand, whereby all Tests in the cycle that can’t be played (through no fault of either side) are deemed draws. In that scenario, both sides receive a third of the points available for a Test (120 points are available for every series). Basing it on percentages of points played for would require a tweak to existing regulations.
As things stand, only India and England have a realistic chance of playing all six of their respective WTC series. For England, that depends on whether their Sri Lanka tour goes ahead. Pakistan can play six series but one against Bangladesh wouldn’t have been completed.
It was only last week that it emerged the final was going ahead at Lord’s in June next year, when Tom Harrison, the ECB CEO, said his Board had been in discussions with the ICC about its staging. That was the culmination of a few weeks of communications between the ICC and its members, in which some Boards preferred to see the final postponed and others the cycle completed. One of the concerns cited by those wanting postponement was about the integrity of a league in which a final is held without all games in the run-up to it being played. Those in favour stressed the importance of completing the inaugural cycle of a tournament that had unanimous backing when conceived, even with imperfections.
Soon after the final, the second WTC cycle starts with India’s Test series in England. After that, preparations – and attention – turns to the T20 World Cup in India and the year ends with the Ashes in Australia. Apart from the oddity of completing the first season of a league while the second is ongoing, there is a worry that between these high-profile events and series, the impact of a first World Test Championship final will be lost.
With this in mind, and based on feedback from those in favour, the decision was taken to push ahead with the final.