New ICC chair questions future of World Test Championship

The continuation of the World Test Championship beyond the final next year appears to be in doubt after Greg Barclay, the newly elected chair of the International Cricket Council, questioned whether the competition is fit for purpose.

It was hoped the two-year league cycle, one that culminates in a showpiece Test between the top two sides, would add greater context to the longest format but its inaugural edition has been damaged badly by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The points system was recently switched to simple win percentage in light of tours being cancelled and, although this led to Australia swapping places with India at the top, the two countries still remain likeliest to contest the trophy at Lord’s next June.

However Barclay, the former head of New Zealand Cricket who was elected last week as ICC chair, has offered no guarantees beyond the first final as he leads a fresh review into the bloated international cricket calendar in which bilateral tours, global events and domestic Twenty20 tournaments all jostle for space.

Speaking on a conference call with news agencies on Monday morning, Barclay said: “Covid has probably highlighted some of the shortcomings we have got with the World Test Championship. From an idealistic point of view it probably had a lot of merit but I do just query in a practical sense whether it’s actually achieved what it was intended to do.

“Let’s get through the next little bit, do what we can taking into account Covid and the ability to reallocate points or whatever, but my personal view is once we’ve done that we’re probably back to the drawing board.

“I’m just not quite sure it’s entirely fit for purpose and perhaps has achieved what we might have hoped it would when it was first conceptualised four or five years ago. Like everything it’s kind of up for grabs and we’ll have a look at it.”

Barclay claims to have support on the matter from countries who lose money on Test cricket but is also expected to push back on a plan by the ICC’s executive to introduce more global tournaments; India, Australia and England had already voiced their opposition given the strain these would place on their profitable bilateral commitments.

The 59-year-old has also promised to do more to promote the women’s game which has itself been afflicted by the pandemic, with tours cancelled and the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand moved from its original slot in February next year to 2022.

“There is a glaring gap between where the men’s game is and where the women’s game sits at the minute. It’s improving but we haven’t come nearly far enough. It’s not just financial investment, it’s behavioural and attitudinal changes that need to be made.

“It’s not so much around the top three or four performing nations, who are making good strides. The next group of countries need some help and the ICC has a role to help facilitate and help nudge that part of the game along.”


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