More against than for on ICC Test Championship point model
PUNE: It is still early days in the ICC Test Championship, but the points system has received a thumbs down from Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis. If the South African captain sees flaws in how it varies depending on the length of the series, his Indian counterpart wants more points for away wins.
Since its inception, several captains have lauded the Championship, as it adds meaning to contests and encourages teams to go for a win. But ever since the points model has been out, there have been calls to tweak it. For instance, prior to the start of the Freedom Trophy, by defeating the eighth-ranked West Indies in two Tests in the Caribbean, India pocketed 120 points.
But fifth-ranked Australia, despite beating England away twice, got only 24 points for each win. While finalising this system, the International Cricket Council allotted 120 points for each series irrespective of the number of matches. In the first cycle (2019-2021), only India, Australia and England feature in five-match series. The rest don’t play more than three, making it a complicated structure.
Du Plessis, whose side is playing their first Test Championship series against India, called the system flawed. “Obviously, the shorter the series, the more points you get. You get 120 points for two wins. When you play a five-match series, then you’ve to win 5-0 (to get 120 points), which is a lot harder. But I’ve noticed with these things, you’ll always find holes. It’s never perfect. So for us it’s just about being the first who is going through this journey now with the Test Championship. Home games are going to be really important,” he said.
India, who are playing their second series in the Championship, have four Tests lined up against Australia next year and another five against England at home. Moreover, India’s away series are against West Indies (already won), New Zealand and Australia. For South Africa, the home series are against England, Australia and Sri Lanka, meaning if they manage a respectable scoreline in India, they can fancy a win at least in the West Indies and UAE against Pakistan.
Kohli, when asked about the Championship, began by listing the good things, most notably how it will take draw out of the equation and make captains more proactive. "The importance of every game has become that much more. In a three-match series, you probably would have played out a draw, but teams are going to go for wins and get those extra points. It’s great for Test cricket. The matches are going to be more exciting. It will be much more demanding now, which is good as it will keep the standard of Test cricket high. These are the things we have experienced so far. If you ask me to make the points table, I would give double the points for an away win. That is something I would like to see after the first edition," he said.
The current points system ends in 2021 and the ICC is understood to be working on a different model, where there is no huge difference among teams with regards to matches they play. Like the women’s ODI Championship, there are thoughts to give the men’s Test Championship tag to three matches irrespective of the series length.