Dubai: Instated with the aim of bringing more context to bilateral Test cricket, the inaugural ICC World Test Championship will be played from July 15, 2019 to April 30, 2021, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on Tuesday.
The nine top-ranked sides in the world will compete in the tournament, with each side playing six series on a home-and-away basis against mutually selected opponents in the two-year cycle.
The top two sides will then contest in the ICC World Test Championship final in June 2021.
The tournament will begin soon after the ICC World Cup 2019, with the Ashes in England set to kickstart the event.
Even as the Ashes mark the tournament’s launch, the West Indies are set to tour India, and New Zealand host Sri Lanka, both in July, making for a hectic start to the new tournament.
The final league game will be played in April 2021, with the Windies set to travel to Sri Lanka for a two-Test series.
ICC chief executive David Richardson has said that the creation of the championship — along with a 13-team one-day international league that will act as a qualification pathway to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 — will add context to bilateral cricket.
“The agreement of this FTP means we have clarity, certainty, and most importantly context around bilateral cricket over the next five years,” he said.
“The World Test Championship will get underway next year with the ODI league kicking off in 2020 as part of the qualification towards the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.
“Bringing context to bilateral cricket is not a new challenge, but with the release of this FTP, our Members have found a genuine solution that gives fans around the world the chance to engage regularly with international cricket that has meaning and the possibility of a global title at the end,” he added.