The establishment of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) has given Test cricket a new dimension. With all the talk of it dying slowly, numerous former cricketers and International Cricket Council (ICC) executives were worried about the sport’s longest format’s survival.
However, the inclusion of the WTC cycle has clearly increased involvement in the format and given each Test match played within the cycle an actual purpose.
India has performed admirably in both WTC cycles thus far. They finished second in the 2019-21 cycle after losing to Kane Williamson’s New Zealand, and they again had to settle for second place in the just concluded 2021-23 cycle, which saw Pat Cummins’ Australia win the coveted Test fixture.
Normally, when you play an ICC event, you get to square off against almost every team in the tournament, as was the case during the 1992 World Cup or even during the 2019 World Cup, which was held in England and Wales, but India hasn’t had the opportunity to square off against their arch-rivals Pakistan even once since the WTC’s inception.
The ICC has revealed the schedule for the next WTC cycle (2023-25), and as expected, both neighbouring countries are not scheduled to face each other over the two-year cycle.
As bizarre as it may appear, political tensions between both countries have prevented them from playing bilateral cricket in a long time, depriving spectators of some tantalising action.
Aakash Chopra, a cricketer-turned-broadcaster, attempted to raise the attention of the governing body to the issue by posting his thoughts on his YouTube channel.
“You don’t play against all teams. But this is WTC, it’s an ICC event. It has been 4 years now… can you imagine an ICC event without India vs Pakistan? This can never happen. It’s always at the start of the tournament so it gets off to a great start commercially. It gets the highest rating and people make money,”
Chopra slammed the ICC for failing to hold a single India-Pakistan match in the previous WTC cycles, claiming that all games played during the cycle should be under the jurisdiction of the highest cricketing governing organisation in practise, not just on paper.
“So, is WTC not an ICC event?”
“It’s an ICC mace, they host the final. So, all the matches that take place in the cycle should be in the purview of the ICC. It will be 6 years, and you didn’t have a single India-Pakistan series.”
“This is also an ICC event. If it’s not, make it clear. Call it bilateral cricket and accept that you have made WTC just to glamorize Tests,”
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