India players leave the field after a match against New Zealand. (File)

What is the future of the World Test Championship (WTC) in the current scenario owing to the coronavirus pandemic? “No decisions have been taken as yet, the WTC will be discussed at the Board meetings this week,” an International Cricket Council (ICC) spokesperson said. The meeting is scheduled on Monday for ICC Chief Executives’ Committee, after which another meeting will be held by Board on Wednesday and Thursday.

According to the original schedule, each team was required to play six series for the World Test Championship. Only the top two teams will qualify for the final, earlier scheduled for June next year. A total of 120 points was allotted for each series, irrespective of the number of Tests being played. Currently in a pool of nine teams, not all sides have played the same number of series. As of now, only India are likely to complete their quota of six series. Owning to the Covid-hindered season, and with the March to May period which will be reserved for the Indian Premier League (IPL), the ICC has a task at their hand to find out a solution.

Points distribution

Two-match series: Win-Tie-Draw (Per Test) – 60-30-20
Three-match series: Win-Tie-Draw (Per Test) – 40-20-13
Four-match series: Win-Tie-Draw (Per Test) – 30-15-10
Five-match series: Win-Tie-Draw (Per Test) – 24-12-8

India

Series Played: 4; Points: 360

India is current at the top of table and their next series will be a four-Test series in Australia, scheduled to began on December 17. As of now, India had three series wins to their name before losing 0-2 in New Zealand earlier this year. In terms of percentage of points (PCT) won out of the total number of points contested, India’s tally is 0.750 currently. Their runs per wicket ratio (RPW), too, is better than all the other nations, 2.011.

After India’s Down Under series they will be playing a five-match home series against England scheduled in February-March. Covid-forced break didn’t hamper India’s WTC fixtures and they are set to fulfil their quota of six series which is an advantage. If they manage to win the series in Australia, it will effectively take them to the WTC final.

Australia

Series Played: 3; Points: 296

Australia was forced to cancel their two-Test series in Bangladesh in June this year due to the pandemic. Australia, placed at No. 2, trail India by 64 points and a clean sweep or a 3-0 series win in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will see them reach the top of the table. Australia’s PCT at the moment is 0.822, while their RPW is 1.604. After India they will face South Africa in three-Test away series scheduled early next year.

England

Series Played: 4; Points: 292

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is trying to reschedule their postponed series against Sri Lanka – the two-match series in March that was forced to being cancelled without a ball being bowled due to pandemic. Without the rescheduling though, England’s fate to be in the top two of WTC, depends on the result of Australia-India series over the next two months. If Australia surpasses India in the points table, then England might have to win at least by a 3-0 margin in India to get into the top two. England’s PCT and RPW at the moment are 0.608 and 1.223 respectively.

New Zealand

Series Played: 3; Points: 180

New Zealand was also forced to postpone their tour of Bangladesh for a two-Test series in August-September due to the pandemic.  It is learnt that the ICC might consider splitting points as an alternative for the cancelled/postponed series. New Zealand’s next two assignments will be home series of two Tests each against West Indies and Pakistan in the Southern summer. So New Zealand still have 240 points to play for and clean sweeps will see them move significantly up the ladder. New Zealand’s PCT and RPW at the moment are 0.500 and 0.883 respectively.

Pakistan

Series Played: 4; Points: 166

Pakistan could play only one home Test against Bangladesh, as the second one in Karachi in April was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pakistan are scheduled to tour New Zealand for a two-Test series followed by a two-Test home series against South Africa. Pakistan, too, may need clean sweeps in their next two series to become top-two contenders. Pakistan so far have won only one series out of four and their PCT and RPW at the moment are 0.395 and 0.853 respectively.

Sri Lanka

Series Played: 2; Points: 80

Sri Lanka had to missed out on home Test series against England (two Tests) and Bangladesh (three Tests). They are scheduled to tour South Africa in a month for a two-Test series followed by two more Tests in the West Indies. The Lankans are yet to secure a series win.

West Indies

Series Played: 2; Points: 40

The two-Test series against South Africa in July-August had to be cancelled for the West Indies side. They, too, are yet to win a series. Their next three assignments are two Tests in New Zealand, three in Bangladesh and two more Tests at home against Sri Lanka.

South Africa

Series Played: 2; Points: 24

Over the next few months, the Proteas are set to play three Test series. One of them being a three-match series against Australia. Before that, they will host Sri Lanka for two Tests and are scheduled to play a two-match away series against Pakistan. South Africa haven’t won a series yet.

Bangladesh

Series Played: 2; Points 0

Having missed out on a three-Test series in Sri Lanka and a two-Test home series against New Zealand, their only WTC assignment left is a three-match home series against West Indies.

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