But what about The Alternative Test Cricket World Championship? Who holds that title?

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The what now? Come on, you remember: The Alternative Test Cricket World Championship. We did two or three blog posts about it on a different domain back in 2006. It’s the one that’s decided like a boxing title, where you can only become champions by beating the current champions.

That’s the long and short of it really. To win the title, you must beat the current holders in a Test series – not in a match, in a series. If the series is drawn, then the champions retain their title and carry it into their next series.

In 2006, friend of the site, The Scientician, traced the path of the title from the very first Test series between England and Australia back in 1877.

We’re probably overdue an update. Fortunately, The Scientician (who has since become Dr The Scientician) has put in the hard yards…

The title’s path

So last we heard, back in 2006, the world was bracing for a title bout between then-holders Pakistan and challengers England. The latter emerged victorious but then rather abruptly ceded the title to Australia later in the year.

Since then, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and New Zealand have all had their hands on the (imaginary) trophy. Even the West Indies had a little moment after their 2-1 win over England in 2019.

However, the question on everyone’s lips is who are champions now?

South Africa snatched the title from India in 2021/22 and then held on until losing to England last summer. England of course haven’t lost a series since.

We’re sure you appreciate the ramifications of that. It means that while the Ashes were retained by Australia with a 2-2 draw, the Alternative Test Cricket World Championship title was retained by England through the same result.

It really was all to play for in that final Test, which means Australia’s tour was a colossal failure and England are amazing.

This also means that England’s five-Test tour of India from late January is an Alternative Title Bout. Here’s a spreadsheet awash with typos which charts the path of the title (quite possibly correctly, but let’s not make rash promises).



Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. Weeee are the champions, my friend.
    And weeee’ll keep on fighting to the end.
    Weeee are the champions,
    Weeee are the champions,
    No time for losers
    ‘Cos weeee are the champions,

    1. The final ‘of the world’ is a Mandela effect, it doesn’t exist except in everyone’s shared fever dream. Like the third lockdown, or Gary Ballance’s leggies.

      1. Alex Hales’ moon balls were real though.

        Hey, remember Alex Hales? He’s retiring apparently. Alex Hales? Anyone?

      2. This is weird. Because what you say is true – there is no “…of the world” in the lyrics of that song. Just googling it proves it, loads of people are pointing this out.

        On the other hand…

      3. You are all correct.

        “…of the world” is the final phrase of the “We Are The Champions” chorus lyric. However, in the best known “official” recording of the song, Queen chose to replace the final lyric phrase with a long dying chord – no doubt anticipating stadium crowds to sing that ;last phrase for them.

        I never warmed to that song, nor to Queen’s posturing recording of it. Still, the song certainly has an ensuring popularity despite my aversion to it. Perhaps that silently hanging final phrase is a significant key to the song’s success.

        I’m currently working up Pastime With Good Company – coincidentally by “King” – for performance:


        I wonder whether I can leave the last phrase silently hanging in performance, Queen-style?

      4. Alluding to this song more than any other, Stephen Merchant said he was going to write a massive hit single, the chorus of which would be something like, “We are the winners! We won the thing!”

  2. I have a burning question about the 5th test controversial ball change. Below is an extract from a cricinfo article

    Usman Khawaja, Australia’s opening batter, has echoed Ricky Ponting’s displeasure at the crucial ball-change midway through the fourth innings of the fifth Ashes Test at the Kia Oval, stating that he “hadn’t felt the ball hit my bat as hard” at any other stage of the series, despite facing more than 1200 deliveries across the five Tests

    How is it possible that an Aussie opener who had opened 10 innings in the series facing new balls by this stage, felt that he “hadn’t felt the ball hit my bat as hard” as the controversial changed ball, which whilst relatively new was not in fact brand new.

    The options I can think of are:
    1. The first 10 innings of the series were opened with tennis balls
    2. Khawaja had reduced feeling in his arms for those 10 innings openings but was cured shortly before the ball change
    3. The controversial changed ball was not a cricket ball at all but something denser and harder that still looked like a cricket ball
    4. Khawaja is not being entirely honest

    Am I missing a more likely explanation?

    1. We suppose the atmosphere could have coincidentally thinned considerably, reducing wind resistance. Not sure that would qualify as “more likely” though.

    2. 5. This isn’t the Khawaja who faced the other ~1100 deliveries.

      6. His perception of “hardness” changes (and changed) over time.

      7. The English bowlers had been learning to bowl the “hard” ball and perfected it just after that ball change.

      Unless you show me evidence to the contrary, I think all these (and many more I’m happy to come up with) are very likely explanations.

      1. Maybe he faced only ‘heavy’ balls in the last innings (Brezzy Lad was famed for bowling a ‘heavy bouncer’, for example). Maybe Uzzy has finally unlocked whatever the hell this means for the good of all cricketkind.

        I thought there had been an excessive amount of post-Ashes-retention whingeing by the Aussies, but it all seems justified now in the context of the Alternative Test Cricket World Championship and The Bet.

    1. The very first thing I thought was “how did he handle the 1912 Triangular Tournament”? Apparently by splitting up as if England played separate series against Australia and South Africa. I guess that works, but it’s a bit fortunate England dominated that tournament. Had England been thrashed and Australia topped the table, would the lineal championship have passed to South Africa (on the grounds that their series against England finished with the penultimate Test of the tournament, and the final Test was England vs Australia, so South Africa would technically have won a series against England first), or would it have passed to Australia (on the grounds they won the triangular tournament – but then what would you have done if England were bottom and the other two tied for first place?), or would you have had to do a countback to see which side won their second Test against England first (because even if the series wasn’t complete yet, a 2-0 lead would have been unassailable)? What if the final Test of the tournament had actually been Australia vs South Africa – had one of those sides already beaten England in their series, would that final Test have been a decider as to which tourist won the lineal championship?

      The second thing I thought was “wonder how he dealt with that time in 1930 when two touring England sides played series against West Indies and New Zealand simultaneously? Tricky decisions about how to handle this seem to have been solved by England not losing either series, but simultaneous losses could have been tricky too. Would time zones have had to be consulted to determine who beat England first?

      1. This sort of comment is why sports nerds are proper nerds, depsite pretending that they are somehow less nerdy than the rest of us nerds. Well done, i salute your A1 dorkery.

  3. This “change of champion only by defeating the champion” method of determining champions was indeed the norm in the 1870s when international test match cricket emerged.

    Tennis (real) had been using this method for over a century by then and is believed to be the oldest sport with a continuous thread of “world champions”. Lawn tennis intended to use the same method, after Spencer Gore won the first Wimbledon, coincidentally, like cricket, in 1877. Eric Hadow took the Wimbledon title from Gore that way in 1878 (ie the whole tournament prior to the final was the selection of a challenger to the champion. The final was the challenger v the champion). Hadow won the final match in straight sets (as indeed he had won all of his matches, but refused to return to defend his Wimbledon title, reportedly saying, “sissy game. Played with a soft ball. Can’t be bothered”.

    Which brings us back ever so neatly to Usman Khawaja and his infeasibly soft balls.

  4. This is clearly a much better system than the World Test Championship and I am here for it.

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