We all thought the idea was to promote Test cricket and facilitate the proliferation of the red-ball cricket. But the new Test Championship points system has ended up putting greater value on shorter Test series rather than longer, more grueling encounters.
The points system in place provides 120 points for each series, irrespective of the number of matches in it. All teams play three home and three away series in the current cycle leading up to the final in 2021. The idea behind it is that since all teams don’t play the same number of Tests, those who play more – like India, England and Australia – should not automatically get more points.
However, in order to avoid such a discrepancy, the current system has greatly undermined five-Test series. One win in a two-Test series is worth 60 points while in a five-match series, a team will have to win three Tests to better that since each win in that series is only worth 24 points.
While five-Test series are driven mainly by commercial considerations, it is the ultimate test of a red-ball team. But it does not make much sense now from a cricketing point of view.
Let’s take a hypothetical situation. If a team plays two five-match series, it stands to gain a maximum of 240 points. But to reach there, it needs to win 10 Tests. Another team can accrue the same number of points by winning just four matches in two two-Test series.
On Thursday, three crucial Tests will be played across the world. The third Ashes Test in Leeds is finely poised with Australia leading 1-0. India begin their Test Championship against a dangerous Caribbean team during a two-match series which kicks off in Antigua. New Zealand will aim to level the two-Test series against Sri Lanka at the P Sara Oval.
Although number of matches are different, all series carry equal points (120).— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) July 31, 2019
Pakistan winning a two-match series 2-0 will be as good as England winning a series 5-0 but, on the flip side, losing a series 0-2 will be as bad as 0-5. pic.twitter.com/pdfHZ3Zz0h
If Sri Lanka win the second Test against New Zealand, they will have a total 120 points. Australia will have fewer points than Sri Lanka even if they beat England 4-0 in the Ashes.
If the current points system remains well into the future, teams that play mainly two and three-Test series will be in a much better position to last the distance in a Test Championship cycle and fight for a spot in the final simply because it will be easier on the bodies of players, especially fast bowlers.
Inversely, teams that play more five-Test series will have to put in a lot more effort for not enough points and that can hurt them in the race to the title clash. A points system that has been created to fit existing arrangements will most likely end up hurting teams that play more Test cricket.