World Test Championship finalists to be decided by percentage of points earned

Approach first needs to be approved by CEC before it is implemented.

Osman Samiuddin
Osman Samiuddin
Tim Paine and Virat Kohli shake hands, Australia v India, 2nd Test, Perth, 5th day, December 18, 2018

Tim Paine and Virat Kohli shake hands  •  Getty Images

Finalists for the World Test Championship (WTC) will be decided by the percentage of points they have earned from those they have actually contested for. The ICC's cricket committee has chosen this option for the first edition of a disrupted WTC, though final approval will be given by the CEC (chief executives' committee) this week. The ICC's last quarterly meeting of the year begins on Monday this week.
The other option under consideration by the committee was to treat Tests not played in this league cycle because of the pandemic as draws, and split the points. That has been ruled out, though in making this choice, there was acknowledgment within the committee that the 'least bad' option had to be found, this WTC cycle completed to be able to move on to the next one.
The approach does not drastically change the chances of those in the running for the final, scheduled to be played next June in England. New Zealand might see it as a better opportunity to finish in the top two: if they pick up the maximum of 240 points from their two home series against West Indies and Pakistan - and they've won their last six Tests at home against them - they end up with 420 points (out of 600 contested) or 70%.
That would put them ahead of England and not far off India, although it would still come down to two pivotal upcoming series: India vs Australia and then India vs England, and both those series are of four Tests or more. England are also trying to reschedule their postponed series with Sri Lanka, which, if it goes ahead, could have an impact. As things stand only India and England have a realistic chance of playing all six of their respective WTC series. Pakistan can play six series but one against Bangladesh wouldn't have been completed.
At least one committee member made the intriguing suggestion of tweaking the league to include two semi-finals and a final, though that was not taken up. Fitting three WTC Tests, potentially all into an English summer, was thought to be unfeasible.
The squeeze in the calendar, as members try to salvage what they can of bilateral commitments as well as their two T20 leagues, is why there is such a push to make sure a WTC final is staged. Postponing the final altogether was the favoured option among boards when these discussions began earlier.
But given that the second WTC cycle starts with India's Test series in England, before attention turns to the T20 World Cup in India, and that the year ends with the Ashes, playing an inaugural WTC final amid that would dampen its impact. In any case, playing out a final to a first season during the second season would dilute the idea of the league.
  • If New Zealand get the maximum 240 points from their home series, they will get to 70%.
  • If Australia win all four Tests at home against India, they'll go up to 86.67%. If they lose all three Tests to South Africa (if the series happens), they'll drop to 69.33%.
  • If India lose all four Tests against Australia and win all five against England, they'll get to 480 points and 66.67%. If they win all five against England and lose 3-1 to Australia, they'll have 510 points and 70.83% (marginally ahead of New Zealand's maximum possible score). If India win 5-0 against England and lose 2-0 to Australia, they'll have 500 pts and 69.44%. So even two draws in Australia will not be enough for India if New Zealand sweep 240 points at home.
  • Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo