After keeping the fans excited for so many years, the ICC finally launched the Test championship which fittingly began with a clash between cricket’s oldest rivals, England and Australia. The championship will go on for the next couple of years with teams playing a bunch of home and away series.
In the coming weeks, we could see some experts raising concerns over some of the scheduling done, but the format definitely looks interesting. Nine teams will be taking part in the tournament and each team will be playing six opponents. On 10th June 2021, the two teams with most points will contest for the trophy and this finale will be hosted by cricket’s pilgrimage center, The Lord’s.
A lot of purist cricket fans have been eagerly waiting for this to happen and the ICC is hopeful that fans from all streams will come in to enjoy this cricketing extravaganza.
Here’s our prediction of what the positions of each team could be at the end of the tournament in June 2021:
9. West Indies
Windies Test team. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Perhaps the weakest Test team among all has to be the Caribbean side. They do have a lot of flair when we talk about their white-ball cricket, but against the red ball, they have struggled and their fixtures aren’t easy as well. Their first assignment in the Test championship will be against the mighty Indians, which includes 2 Tests.
They will also host South Africa and Sri Lanka for two Tests each. It will be interesting to see if they can churn out points against Sri Lanka but to win the series against South Africa will be very difficult. Jason Holder has a couple of decent fast bowlers who are showing promise, but their batting department still looks relatively weak.
Their away fixtures pose an even difficult task, which includes three Tests against Bangladesh in Asian spinning conditions. They will also travel to England and New Zealand to play three Tests each, neither of which seems a task within their reach to complete.
Home fixtures – India (2 Tests), South Africa (2 Tests), Sri Lanka (2 Tests)
Away fixtures – Bangladesh (3 Tests), England (3 Tests), New Zealand (3 Tests)
Teams they will not play – Australia and Pakistan
8. Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan team. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
The emergence of young talents like Avishka Fernando was only positive Sri Lanka took from the ICC World Cup. The last couple of years have been catastrophic for the Islanders and their chances of making it to the final look next to impossible under circumstances.
Sri Lanka will have to perform their hearts out in their home fixtures. One of the toughest will be against Bangladesh, which will be a 3-game series and going by how much Bangladesh developed in recent years, this series won’t be easy. Two non-Asian teams in England and New Zealand will be travelling to Sri Lanka as well for two Tests each and it will be interesting to see if the hosts can spin a web.
Their away fixtures don’t look very complicated. They recently won a 2-match series against South Africa and will fancy doing a miracle again, but it won’t be easy. West Indies is a series which they could perhaps pull off a positive result, but the one against Pakistan in UAE will be a significant challenge.
Home fixtures – Bangladesh (3 Tests), England (2 Tests), New Zealand (2 Tests)
Away fixtures – Pakistan (2 Tests), South Africa (2 Tests), West Indies (2 Tests)
Teams they will not play – Australia and India
Sarfraz Ahmed. (Photo by Shaun Roy/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
After a disappointing World Cup exit, this is perhaps Sarfaraz Ahmed’s only chance to save his captaincy. Things don’t look very promising for them and they will have to depend very heavily on their fast bowling department in their away tours. Their batting hasn’t been complimenting their bowlers well for a long time now and that will continue to worry them.
Their home fixtures in UAE include 2-match series against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South Africa. They are the only team who will not enjoy proper home advantage. It is difficult to determine what advantage they will have in these games, but to keep their hopes alive in the tournament, they need to win at least two of them.
Their away fixtures are perhaps the toughest among all the teams. Pakistan will be facing Australia and New Zealand for two Tests each apart from the 3-match series against England. All of these tours will pose a humongous challenge in front of this side and it will be very difficult for them to clear it.
Home fixtures – Bangladesh (2 Tests), Sri Lanka (2 Tests), South Africa (2 Tests)
Away fixtures – Australia (2 Tests), England (3 Tests), New Zealand (2 Tests)
Teams they will not play – India, West Indies
Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka 2nd Test played at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
The Tigers are growing and their performance in the ICC World Cup 2019 is a clear indication that they are going in a positive direction. Bangladesh managed to trouble a lot of big teams but failed to make a significant overall impact. A lot of people are predicting them to do well in the Test championship and the expectations right now are sky-high.
Australia, New Zealand and West Indies will be travelling to Bangladesh and these home fixtures do not make things any easy. Australia and New Zealand will be very difficult to put away, but the 3-match series against West Indies is something they will be eagerly looking forward to. They have a good chance of even registering a clean-sweep.
Their away fixtures apart from the games against India are not very complicated and are coming in Asian conditions. They will face Pakistan in 2 Tests and Sri Lanka in 3 Tests, which won’t feel much away from their home conditions. They even have the potential to win these two series, which makes them favourites to take the sixth spot ahead of Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Home fixtures – Australia (2 Tests), New Zealand (2 Tests), West Indies (3 Tests)
Away fixtures – India (2 Tests), Pakistan (2 Tests), Sri Lanka (3 Tests)
Teams they will not play – England, South Africa
5. South Africa
South Africa vs Sri Lanka. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
With the retirement of their stalwarts like AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn, the responsibility of this great South African unit now falls on the shoulders of people who haven’t had much experience in handling big pressure moments. Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada will hold the key for the Proteas in these couple of years.
They do have the potential to make it to the finals after a couple of years, but as it stands, the prediction is for them to finish 5th. Their home fixtures against Australia and England will be a bit complicated whilst the series against Sri Lanka too won’t be easy. Their progress in this tournament heavily depends on how they perform in the home leg.
The away series against India is perhaps their toughest assignment in the Test championship while the other two are not very complicated. They will face Pakistan in UAE and West Indies in the Caribbean Islands for a couple of Tests each and one can expect them to emerge triumphant in these games.
Home fixtures – Australia (3 Tests), England (4 Tests), Sri Lanka (2 Tests)
Away fixtures – India (3 Tests), Pakistan (2 Tests), West Indies (2 Tests)
Teams they will not play – Bangladesh, New Zealand
Joe Root. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
The reigning World Champions are off to a poor start in the World Test Championship, losing the opening Test against Australia on home soil. They had the game in control for a lot of time, but the presence of a certain Steve Smith left the Three Lions clueless. The coming 4 Tests against Australia will be crucial in determining how far they will go.
They will be hosting the Caribbean men and Pakistan for three Tests each apart from the Ashes. Pakistan and West Indies haven’t been playing great cricket in the longest format, which could work brilliantly in their favour. No team will be playing more games than England this tournament.
Their away challenges aren’t any easy, as they will travel to India and Sri Lanka for 5 and 2 Tests respectively. If they can cope with the spin challenge in these tours, they could definitely make a strong case for themselves to make it to the finals. They might have the upper hand against South Africa although the Safaris will host the 4-match series.
Home fixtures – Australia (5 Tests), Pakistan (3 Tests), West Indies (3 Tests)
Away fixtures – India (5 Tests), South Africa (4 Tests), Sri Lanka (2 Tests)
Teams they will not play – Bangladesh, New Zealand
3. New Zealand
Neil Wagner. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
The finalists from the World Cup this year, New Zealand came agonizingly close to winning the most iconic trophy in cricket but fell short by a few inches. They will be seeking redemption to it in the Test championship and they do have a lot of fixtures which will favor them. The Kiwis definitely could finish higher than the side which defeated them in the finals, sheerly going by the draw.
All their home fixtures are not very daunting. The 2-match series against India will be one of the best of the whole championship and going by how the subcontinent side has performed in that part of the world, we could fancy them to win this series. The other two sides which will travel to New Zealand are Pakistan and West Indies.
The Trans-Tasman rivalry will be another key contest in this championship, which will include 3 Tests in Australia. The other away assignments are in Asian conditions for the Kiwis, which includes two Tests each against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Home fixtures – India (2 Tests), Pakistan (2 Tests), West Indies (3 Tests)
Away fixtures – Australia (3 Tests), Bangladesh (2 Tests), Sri Lanka (2 Tests)
Teams they will not play – South Africa, England
Indian team. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
India are currently the number one side in the world in the longest format of the game. They have conquered the top position for quite some time now and should be the favourites to make it to the final of the inaugural Test championship.
As far as their fixtures are concerned, India will have a tough time in the series against England and New Zealand, but they will definitely end up triumphant in one of them, if not the both. The Brits haven’t done well generally in India in Tests while the conditions in New Zealand will be the toughest.
The other two home series against Bangladesh and South Africa should be relatively easy for the Virat Kohli-led side. They will start their Test championship with the two-match series in West Indies and are no doubt the favourites. Touring Australia for four Tests will be their sternest assignment during this period.
Home fixtures – Bangladesh (2 Tests), England (5 Tests), South Africa (3 Tests)
Away fixtures – Australia (4 Tests), New Zealand (2 Tests), West Indies (2 Tests)
Teams they will not play – Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Australian team. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)
Australia and India are expected to make it to the finals at the Lord’s on June 10th, 2021. Both sides have outstanding Test units and their ranking speaks for their prowess. The Aussies and the Indians will go hell for leather at each other and will provide a contest worth cherishing for a lifetime. Australia will be hosting the 4-match series during the group stages between these sides, which will be an absolute blockbuster.
Australia’s toughest time will be in Bangladesh perhaps, where they will have to face some top quality spin music. They have a wizard named Lyon in their ranks as well, who will relish bowling on slow subcontinent tracks. They are the favourites to finish on top of the ladder at the end of the group stages.
Having said that, we believe the championship final could end in a draw with both teams pretty equally balanced (If the final ends in a draw or a tie, the trophy will be shared by both teams). They both have two of the greatest batsmen of this generation in Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, who will continue to mesmerize the cricketing world with their magic.
Home fixtures – India (4 Tests), New Zealand (3 Tests), Pakistan (2 Tests)
Away fixtures – Bangladesh (2 Tests), England (5 Tests), South Africa (3 Tests)
Teams they will not play – Sri Lanka, West Indies
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