In long form

A world Test championship for cricket is long overdue

There should be at least one pinnacle global event for each of the three formats of the game, the ICC decided in its annual conference last week, and England, the spiritual home of cricket, has been given the hosting rights for the inaugural Test Championship in 2017. Such an event for the game's most revered format was long awaited.

It's heartening to hear the ICC finally say the right things on Test cricket. The ICC cricket committee showed concern over countries scrapping bilateral Test series to allow players to participate in the T20 leagues. From now on, every country will have to play at least 16 Tests over a four-year period. Of course, the big four India, England, Australia and South Africa are expected to play a lot more than the prescribed minimum. The ICC had planned to introduce the Test Championship, involving the top four teams in the rankings, in 2013, but had to shelve it due to lack of commercial support. This time, the world body must ensure that every team is provided with equal opportunity.

In 1999, when Jagmohan Dalmiya was Asian Cricket Council chief, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka had played an Asian Test Championship between them. It didn't prove to be financially viable. Now with all the top teams interested, the World Test Championship is likely to avoid the same problem. It's good news for India also. Turnout in Test matches in this country has declined to an historic low. In December 2009, India became the No. 1 Test team in the world but the achievement barely drew any notice. Hopefully, the World Test Championship will change things, given the obsession with World Cups, and will be a successful event by the time India hosts its second edition in 2021.

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