The World Test Championship (WTC) could get the showpiece final it has wanted in the summer of 2023, as the ICC works to have it staged at Lord’s.
Lord’s had been informally earmarked as the venue for the first WTC final last summer but because of Covid-19 the game was instead played in Southampton at the Ageas Bowl. At the time, the UK was still moving out of restrictions put in place because of the pandemic. Southampton – which had hosted international cricket in the summer of 2020 at the start of the pandemic – was seen as the ideal venue logistically to keep players in a bio-secure bubble because of its on-site hotel. New Zealand beat India in the final to become the inaugural Test world champions.
But as restrictions have ended in the UK and bio-secure bubbles have been eased out, the ICC are hoping once again to stage the final at Lord’s.
“I think it is scheduled for Lord’s, that was always the intention,” ICC chairperson Greg Barclay said on BBC’s Test Match Special at tea on the second day of the first Test between England and New Zealand, at Lord’s.
“It’s June so that rules out a number of other venues and we’ve got to get certainty around where it’s hosted. We’re out of Covid now so subject to arrangements being made and being able to be hosted out of Lord’s I think that’s the intention.”
England are likely to host a one-off Test against a yet-to-be finalised opponent next summer before then hosting the Ashes. That would seem to increase the chances of Lord’s hosting the world final.
There is still some work to be done before that is finalised, however the ICC are hoping to announce the venue at their Annual General Meeting next month.
Barclay also said that though the WTC had brought some relevancy back to Test cricket, outside of India, England and Australia, other full members may have to accept that they will play less Test cricket than they would like to.
“Men’s Test cricket is something that represents the history and legacy of the game, it is what makes the game unique,” Barclay said when asked where he saw the long format 10-15 years from now.
“We are fortunate that we have other formats that can help us sustain Test cricket financially because other than one or two series it is effectively loss-making for boards – players will tell you it is ultimate test of cricket and they want to play it.
“The Test Championship has driven some relevancy into it so in 10-15 years’ time I still see Test cricket being an integral part. It may be that there is less Test cricket. Some countries may have to make room and play less Test cricket – some of them might have totally different long and short form squads but also some of the smaller Full Members will have to accept from a resourcing point of view that they can’t play the amount of Test cricket that they wanted to. So we may see a lessening of that, maybe they play four or five Tests a year whereas England, Australia and India I think will be playing Test cricket as they are now.”