England Eyeing Two Test Series if World Test Championship Final Gets Postponed

Many complications have arisen in the cricket world ever since the onset of the pandemic. While we have witnessed changes in almost every arena of life—from our work life to our personal lives—these changes have also spread to our world of entertainment and sports.

The World Test Championship (WTC) has always had its fair share of complications even before the pandemic. There are many different teams and each team plays a differing number of overall test matches. Adding to this, many sides do not have matches against all sides, which makes deciding points and figuring out the winning teams confusing and time consuming.

Now, with the possibility that the WTC may not happen this year—which is not surprising given that numerous tournaments and large events have been cancelled or postponed this year—some teams, such as England’s team, is considering having a two test series. If the WTC final gets postponed, England is contemplating having a two test series instead.

Several considerations have come up within the ICC. Spitting the points for games that could not be played is a potential option for teams that could not complete all their matches. Because the WTC cycle has to complete by March 2021, having started in March 2020, there’s a high chance that the pandemic’s disruptions mean that some matches will not be able to take place.

All things considered, England still has a higher chance, along with India, of actually playing all 6 of the matches scheduled for them. This is somewhat reliant on whether or not their tour with Sri Lanka takes place. However, countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh will most likely not be completing all their matches.

England’s Two Test Series

In the event that the WTC gets postponed, England has plans of holding tests against New Zealand and Ireland in 2021. The ECB was in discussion with the NZC and Cricket Ireland about making up for the absence of the final with a two test series.

For now, ECB has scheduled 6 tests for 2021, out of which 5 are possibly involving England and India. The original plan is for the WTC to take place at Lord’s in June; however, there are potential arrangements of England playing a couple of test matches in light of the uncertainty about whether the final will take place.

The chief executive of Cricket Ireland told ESPNCcricinfo that they are holding talks with ECB and are willing to navigate their schedule in order to coordinate a series of test matches. On the other hand, some of the COVID-related issues that have created confusion and uncertainty with regards to the World Test Championship are also relevant to the potential test series that the three countries could have.

Whether or not a series of tests takes place is based on what the ICC decides about the World Test Championship. There have already been 6 series that have been delayed since the pandemic wreaked havoc across the cricket world—and the ICC is not willing to include the WTC final in the list of postponed matches.

Is the World Test Championship Getting Postponed?

Some of the reasons why the final may be postponed include the concern that a final that takes place without every side getting a chance to play all their matches would be difficult to carry out. This is because a certain aspect of the tournament’s integrity would be compromised—as the majority of points would have been decided through percentages and calculations based on the limited matches that were played.

Another reason is time. Because the beginning of the pandemic caused many matches to be indefinitely postponed or cancelled, there is a limited amount of time for the WTC to conduct all its matches and still culminate the cycle for this year by March of next year. For these reasons, the possibility of a postponed or cancelled final is quite realistic.

Some alternatives to cancelling the final are to postpone it to June instead of March, and to conclude the cycle later than originally decided. This would ensure that the remaining matches find a place on the calendar to schedule their event, so that their points can be counted towards the result of the final, rather than a percentage derived from various calculations.

However, these possibilities don’t take into account the snowball effect of delaying the final. The next cycle of the WTC begins with India having a test series in England, after which the T20 World Cup must take place in India, followed by the Ashes taking place in Australia.

If the WTC final is delayed, all matches and tournaments lined up to take place after it will have to be pushed forward, disrupting the 2021 schedule.

The cases in the UK have been rising, with risks of another wave or increased social distancing measures taking place. Both a WTC final, or even a series of tests, bring with them their own share of complications and uncertainty with respect to how viable they are.

Other teams that could be playing a limited-overs game in England include Sri Lanka and Pakistan. As of yet, they have not finalized whether they will also be including tests into their scheduled tours. However, Ireland and New Zealand are among the top considerations for teams playing tests in England.

Final Words

Many factors play into whether the WTC final can take place—most of these are related to the lack of adequate series played by all sides involved. This is through no fault of anyone involved—the coronavirus caught the cricketing world off guard, as well as the rest of us.

Certain compromises will have to be made in order to resume cricket both in England and across the world, some of which involve possibly replacing certain tournaments with other test series to complete the cricket season.

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