A Test Cricket Championship Format

At the moment, we’re all talking about how the Big Bash will affect selection for the 2016 World T20, which is being held in India in March.

This has raised two questions:

Firstly, does anyone in Australia care if we win the World T20? The answer is no, we don’t. T20 is fun to watch, but you wouldn’t call up your friend from New Zealand and brag about winning the T20 series against them.

And secondly, why is there no Test cricket championship?

There were plans to hold a tournament in 2013 in England, but that was cancelled due to ‘financial problems’. There are still plans for one in 2017, but no-one knows anything about it except that it should be played in England. I did some thinking, and I came up with the Statscrunch Test Cricket Championship Format.

Even then, this won’t be like the Cricket World Cup. If you’re looking for something similar to it, it’s best counterpart would probably be the OFC FIFA World Cup qualification.

For the start, here’s the current ICC Test Rankings:

  1. South Africa
  2. India
  3. Australia
  4. Pakistan
  5. England
  6. New Zealand
  7. Sri Lanka
  8. West Indies
  9. Bangladesh
  10. Zimbabwe

And, because this will come in handy, the ICC Intercontinental Cup leaderboard at the moment. This is like a Test championship, but for the associate nations.

  1. Ireland
  2. Netherlands
  3. Afghanistan
  4. Hong Kong
  5. Papua New Guinea
  6. Namibia
  7. Scotland
  8. United Arab Emirates

Since that finishes in November/December 2017, we’ll start the first round in July.

Some of you will by now no doubt be wondering how the point-scoring system will work. We’re going to take it from a 40 year old puzzle book I bought for 20 cents at a fair last year, with some slight modifications:

  • Win: 10 points
  • Win on 1st innings in a drawn match: 6 points
  • Lose on 1st innings in a drawn match: 2 points
  • Tie: 5 points
  • Drawn match with the 1st innings not completed: 4 points
  • Lose: 0 points
  • If two teams are equal on points, then their wicket-taking rate will be used to rank them.

Now, the bottom four teams from the ranking, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe, will play a round-robin series in a neutral venue, I’ll say England. And using a random number generator, we end up with the following:

Team P W W1 L1 L Pts
1 Sri Lanka 3 2 0 0 1 20
2 West Indies 3 2 0 0 1 20
3 Bangladesh 3 1 1 0 1 16
4 Zimbawe 3 0 0 1 2 2

Sri Lanka and the West Indies qualify for the next round, while Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are eliminated. This next round is another qualifer, featuring these two teams, as well as the fifth and sixth placed sides of England and New Zealand. We’ll put this in a neutral ground in October, maybe Australia or India. The result for this was:

Team P W W1 L1 L Pts
1 West Indies 3 3 0 0 0 30
2 New Zealand 3 1 1 0 1 16
3 Sri Lanka 3 1 0 0 2 10
4 England 3 0 0 1 2 2

So, the West Indies and New Zealand make it through to the main part of the championship, while Sri Lanka and England are eliminated.

But for the eliminated teams, it’s not over yet. They’ll play in a double round robin with the top four teams from the Intercontinental Cup. The top four teams in this will get Test status for the next four years.

And now the big show. This features the top four sides (South Africa, India, Australia, and Pakistan), as well as our two qualifiers (the West Indies and New Zealand). Every team will play every other team twice, once at home and once away. They can do this over January 2018 to mid 2019, and play other non-ranked matches on the side. After simulating it, we wound up with this as a result:

Team P W W1 L1 L Pts
1 India 10 4 2 2 2 56
2 New Zealand 10 4 2 2 2 56
3 South Africa 10 4 1 4 1 54
4 West Indies 10 3 2 3 2 48
5 Australia 10 1 4 0 5 34
6 Pakistan 10 2 1 1 6 28

The winning team, India, qualifies directly for the final, and get to host it. The teams in second and third, New Zealand and South Africa, are in the semi-final, also in India.

You’re probably thinking that the semi-final and final will be a one-off game. But I was thinking more along the lines of a three-Test series, with the winner going through. Anyway, in our simulated semis, New Zealand and South Africa tied 1-1, but New Zealand would go through based on their better performance in the round-robin stage. And after beating India 2-0 in the finals, it puts the Kiwis as our simulated Test champions.

Of course, organising a Test cricket championship would be hard, and I’m sure there are countless other systems. But we need a Test championship, so we can truly crown the best team in the world.

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