For long there has been talk about the need for an interesting world championship of Test cricket. Obviously, the rolling mace for the no. 1 Test team in the world has not been exciting enough. A world Test tournament was proposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC), and thankfully shelved in its recent meeting
As far back as 1912, a triangular Test tournament was played between hosts England. Australia and South Africa, and it was not a success. In the late 1990s a misconceived Asian Test championship was conducted, and once again added no value. It is established that a tournament for Test cricket is not a workable proposition, yet administrators come up with fanciful ideas time and again.
I first put forth my arguments in my debut book ‘Test Cricket: End of the Road?’ as far back as 1990, proposing a four-year World Championship of Test cricket, to be played between one One-day ICC World Cup and the next. For long I have felt that this is the way forward for Test cricket. If points are totalled over a four-year period and a champion team emerges after dividing these points by the number of Test matches and series played by each side, it would make for a very exciting championship.
Ideally, every Test-playing nation should play against every other, home and away, in a two to five-Test series every four years. If this is not always possible, it should be as close to this principle as far as can be. There is, though, no reason why it cannot happen if the ICC and the respective Boards make an effort.
The points system should place a premium on wins, quick scoring and good bowling strike-rates. Hence there should be 10 points for each Test win, and no point for a draw, except in the event of a Test match ending without a result due to interference by the weather, in which case both teams should be awarded 5 points each.
This system should also be so devised as not to encourage teams to bat on and on, particularly in the first innings and take too much advantage of a flat wicket, nor also in the second innings in an over-cautious attempt to avoid defeat. Batting and bowling points should, hence, be awarded only up to the first 135 overs - translating to a-day-and-a-half - in each of the first innings, and 90 overs in each of the second innings.
In the first innings, each team should be awarded one point for scoring 270 runs, two points for scoring 340 runs, three points for scoring 405 runs, and four points for scoring 475 runs in the first 135 overs of their respective turns. This would mean that they would get one point for scoring at a rate of at least 2 runs an over, two points for scoring at a rate of at least 2.5 runs an over, three points for scoring at a rate of at least 3 runs an over, and four points for scoring at a rate of at least 3.5 runs an over.
In the second innings, each team should be awarded one point for scoring 180 runs, two points for scoring 205 runs, three points for scoring 225 runs, and four points for scoring 250 runs in their respective first 90 overs. They would, therefore, get one point for scoring at least 2 runs an over, two points for scoring at least 2.25 runs an over, three points for scoring at least 2.5 runs an over, and four points for scoring at least 2.75 runs an over.
For bowling, in either innings, one point should be awarded to both sides for taking 7 wickets, two points for taking 8 wickets, three points for taking 9 wickets, and four points for taking 10 wickets in the first 135 overs and 90 overs respectively.
In the event of innings wins, four points should be awarded for the second innings in which the team did not bat. In case of wins by wickets, batting points should be awarded for scoring at the rates mentioned above in case 90 overs have not been completed. Similarly, in case of second-innings declaration leading to wins by runs, batting points should be awarded for scoring at the prescribed rates.
Such a system would make for positive cricket, and also provide an incentive to quicken the over-rate, as it would be in the interests of both teams to strive for runs and wickets, and for victories.
For winning a series 20 points should be awarded. At the end of the four-year period, the total match points should be divided by the Tests, and the series points divided by the series played by each team, and added up. Not only would a champion team emerge, but periodic rankings would also be known.
(Indra Vikram Singh is author of several books on cricket and can be contacted on email firstname.lastname@example.org).