The apex cricketing body, International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday officially launched the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC).
"The ICC Men's Cricket World Cup this summer showed just how important it is for every game to count and for the world's best teams to go head-to-head. The World Test Championship will bring relevance and context to bilateral Test cricket over the next two years, creating a pinnacle event for the five-day format, just as the World Cups for men and women do in the ODI and T20I formats," Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager - Cricket Operations said in an official statement.
"We are awaiting the ICC World Test Championship with great enthusiasm as it adds context to the longest format of the game. Test cricket is very challenging and coming out on top in the traditional form is always highly satisfying. The Indian team has done really well in recent years and will be fancying its chances in the championship," Indian skipper Virat Kohli said.
The championship will begin from August 1 as Australia and England will face each other in the Ashes. WTC will comprise of the top nine Test teams in the world (Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies).
"Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport. It is the very essence of cricket and the majority of players want to strive to play the purest form of the game. The ICC World Test Championship is another brilliant initiative for the sport, adding context and relevance to every Test series. Every Test matters, but even more so now," England pacer James Anderson said.
"The World Test Championship is a fantastic initiative. We love playing Test cricket, it's the pinnacle for us, remains hugely popular in Australia and we're fortunate that it enjoys great support at home among players, the media and the public. To wear the baggy green is the ultimate for all Australian cricketers and if the World Test Championship helps to ensure that all countries make Tests a high priority then that has to be good news for the game in general and the continuing health of the format in particular," Australian skipper Tim Paine said.
In the championship, a total of 71 Test matches will be played across 27 series over two years. The top two teams will then contest in the ICC World Test Championship final in June 2021 in the UK.
Points will be up for grabs during each match and each team will play three home and three away series. Each series will count for 120 points, distributed over the number of matches in a series.
For example, a two-match series will mean 60 points for each Test while a three-match series will give 40 points to each Test match. A tie will be 50 per cent of the points available, whereas a draw will be a 3:1 points ratio.
The matches will be played in the same format as bilateral series but with the added context of a competition and one champion team. The number of matches in each series can vary between a minimum of two matches, to a maximum of five matches.
The first cycle of the WTC consists of only five-day matches and will include day-night matches. Only matches identified as part of the WTC will count towards the championship.
The championship will begin from August 1 as Australia and England will face each other in the Ashes.