The ICC have announced that there will now be a four year Test championship. At the end of the cycle, the top four teams enter play-offs and then there’s a final.
We do understand the significance of a final – the two best teams pitted against each other is always appealing. However, we think we see a flaw.
Making every match count
We thought the point of a Test championship was to make Tests seem more meaningful. Unless we’re missing something (highly likely), then having play-offs and then a final actually makes many Tests less meaningful.
Maybe finishing first in this championship confers some sort of advantage, such as playing a semi-final at home, but if the final’s scheduled for a particular venue regardless of where you finish (it’s looking like it’ll be at Lord’s) does it really make a massive difference whether you come first or fourth?
If winning the Test championship suddenly becomes ‘the point’ and the team that’s top pretty much qualifies for the play-offs 18 months before they happen, knowing they’re unlikely to fall to fifth, then what are they doing in subsequent Tests? How much do they matter?
As for this final, say India and South Africa qualify, wouldn’t it be far, far better to play the match at Eden Gardens or Newlands rather than at Lord’s? We went to Lord’s for Pakistan v Australia. Now granted that wasn’t a final, but it was still a major fixture. The atmosphere was pretty dead and that wasn’t just cause there were few supporters. It was also because a large proportion of them were impartial.
Big matches in leagues
Cricket always wants finals, but leagues throw up big matches naturally. South Africa might have to beat Sri Lanka 2-0 to win the Test championship, or it might all hinge on the India v South Africa series that occurs early on in the four-year cycle. Who knows?
We appreciate that a final provides a focus, but so does the climax of a league. Our concern is that by putting focus on one match, you’re devaluing many that precede it.
We’d like hear your thoughts on this, because at the time of writing the information about this Test championship is kind of sketchy.
Are we missing something? Does a Test championship need a final?