A Manifesto for World Cricket
Previously: Part 1 a b c d e f g h 2 a b c
Part 3. World and Regional Test Championships
In this section, I will outline a format for playing world and regional championships, on a four year cycle, as discussed in the previous post on structural pillars. It make sense to work backwards, from the goal to the journey's beginning, outlining each of the five stages in turn.
Part 3a. Year 4: The World Test Championship Final
Naturally, a championship ends with a final. Because this is test cricket, and because this series should be the pinnacle of the game, it should be a four test series, played home and away, with two tests for each finalist. In the event of a drawn series, the host of the second leg should host a fifth, and deciding game. Because this potentially requires the crossing from one hemispheric summer to another, the sensible time to hold it is in the September/October international break, playing the four or five games across the six available weeks.
In addition, two plate championship finals, for the test teams that didn't qualify for the world championship finals, and the associate teams, should be played. Producing, in effect, three divisions, each with their own champion.
Part 3b. Year 3: The World Test Championship
In order to have a final, you must first play a championship. This section is the central idea for the whole test championship. Numerous people have proposed leagues and finals, but most fall short on logistical grounds, requiring endless overseas travel, and removing from the equation that unique aspect of test cricket: the series. As previously discussed, the aim here is to create a tournament, one that emphasises the good points of test cricket, for the elite teams, but structured such that any team might qualify. Given those points, the twelve test limit on the number of matches a team might reasonably play in a year, and the need to schedule around different seasons, and emerging T20 tournaments, the structure chosen is, I believe, the best that can be achieved.
The test championship would be contested by six teams. There are several advantages to this. Firstly, six covers enough of the test playing nations that the middling sides have ample opportunity to compete, but also allows a competitive second division, between the bottom four test sides and two associates. Secondly, six teams, playing in two groups of three, can play two home three-test series each, completing the entire championship inside a year.
Thirdly, six fits nicely with the existing qualities of the three regions discussed in part one. The Southern and Asian regions, with four test teams each, will have two teams automatically qualifying. The Northern region, with only two test sides, just one. That makes five sides. The final, sixth place, is drawn from the next best side in each of the three regions, as will be explained later.
The championship will be organised as follows:
For logistical reasons, regional teams need to be kept separate, as far as possible. The rules relating to the draw aim to achieve this end.
- The top two teams are seeded, and placed in group 1 and 2 respectively.
- For each region, beginning with the region with the most representatives:
Draw each team,
if one group has more representatives from that region place team into the other group,
otherwise, draw a group number for that team and place in that group.
Each team plays a three test series at home against the other two teams in their group, playing 12 games in total, 6 at home, 6 away. Games are scheduled into the international windows, beginning in October, and ending in the following July.
Points are awarded for each match as follows: a win: 3 points, a tie: 2, a draw: 1, a loss: 0.
Bonus points are awarded for a series victory: +1 point for each game not drawn.
The top team on points in each group progresses to the World Test Championship Final. In the event of a tie, teams will be separated by:
- Aggregate margin (23 runs per wicket for margins by wickets, 250 runs per innings for margins by an an innings)
- Net runs per wicket.
There is very little about this structure that I would change. The number of matches is perfect, and it leads to a dramatic conclusion. The use of series instead of individual games, and a home and away structure instead of neutral venues are all superior to the shorter tournament formats often suggested. There is, however, more problems in the qualifying stages.
25th February, 2010 17:59:34