After getting off to a good start for the first ten matches, the rains have come with a vengeance in the UK and four of the last eight games, including the one today between New Zealand and India, have been called off. Since these two were the last remaining unbeaten teams, there had been considerable interest in this game, making its cancellation particularly disappointing for fans everywhere. Tomorrow West Indies are scheduled to play England and the forecast calls for a ‘few showers’, not a good sign, but mostly in the morning so we may get (or at least hope for) a delayed but complete game.
Three of those four games were abandoned and the fourth was a ‘no result’. A game is considered to begin with the coin toss. It is said to be abandoned if it is called off before the coin toss and is said to be a no result if there is a coin toss but the minimum of 20 overs (120 deliveries) per side is not reached. Of the ten teams playing, Australia, England, Bangladesh are the only one to have not had games called off while Sri Lanka has been the worst hit, having two of its four matches called off.
The scale of the disruption has caused even normally stoic cricket fans who take rain in their stride to grumble and there have been calls that future tournaments should take steps to deal with it, such as inserting make-up days into the schedule or (much more expensively) putting domes over the grounds.
As I have mentioned before, there are three formats of international cricket: the five day Test matches, the One Day Internationals (which is the current World Cup), and the roughly three-hour, 20-over matches called T20. The latter two are more conducive to a single compressed world championship format played over a few weeks, like the soccer World Cups.
When it comes to Test matches, it would be impossible to play a compressed tournament and up to now what we have had is a points system that takes into account Test matches as they are played between any two nations and maintains a running ranking of the countries. The top ranked team can change from day to day depending on the results of each Test match.
But it appears that there will be a World Test championship. It will take the form of a league where 27 bi-lateral series of Test matches of the nine top Test playing teams will be played over two-year periods, the first one from July 16, 2019 to March 31, 2021. “Each team will play three series each at home and away. Each series will comprise a minimum of two and maximum of five Test matches” and the top two finishers will play for the championship trophy. The winning team will have bragging rights as world Test cricket champions until the next final two years later.
The appeal of Test cricket has been declining as fans drift to the newer and shorter forms of the game. This new contest, with its promise of crowning a champion, may be an effort to spark interest in the classical format.