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How England can qualify for the World Test Championship final

England World Test Championship
Yas Rana by Yas Rana
@Yas_Wisden 4 minute read

New Zealand’s 2-0 series victory at home over India has increased the likelihood of teams like England, Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand themselves, qualifying for the World Test Championship (WTC) final at Lord’s in 2021.

Prior to the series, India, who boasted a 100 per cent record in the WTC, and Australia, who won all five of their home Tests by convincing margins over the winter, were overwhelming favourites to qualify for the final but India’s defeat has left the door ajar for the chasing pack.

With 120 points on offer for every series, India currently lead the way with 360 points after four series. Australia, in second place, are the team who have claimed the highest percentage of points available to them, however. They’ve picked up 296 points from the three series they’ve contested.

If England, in fourth place with 146 points after two series, clean sweep their next two series, they would go ahead of India in the table with both sides having played four series each mid-way through the 2020 summer. While that is a considerable ask, England’s next two opponents are Sri Lanka away – England won all three Tests there in 2018 – and West Indies at home – England have won four, lost one and drawn one severely rain-affected game against them at home in Tests over the last decade.

India are currently top of the World Test Championship table despite their 2-0 loss in New Zealand

This would leave them on 386 points ahead of their home series against Pakistan at the back end of the 2020 English summer. While Pakistan have drawn their last two series in England – in 2016 and 2018 – they are currently languishing in seventh place in the ICC Test rankings. Should England win that three-match series 3-0, they would be on 506 points with just the five-Test series in India to go.

India’s penultimate series, meanwhile, is away to Australia. India emerged victorious on their tour there in late 2018, but that was against an Australia side missing the suspended duo of David Warner and Steve Smith and before Marnus Labuschagne’s emergence as a high class top-order operator. Should Australia win that series, say, 3-1 or even draw 2-2, there could be a scenario where India would need to handsomely beat England at home in a five-match series (where individual Test wins are worth fewer points) in early 2021 to qualify for the final.

New Zealand are arguably in a stronger position than England to qualify. They have 180 points after three series and play Bangladesh away, and Pakistan and West Indies both at home before the end of the qualification period. It’s hard to predict how the Bangladesh series will go – New Zealand haven’t toured there since 2013 – but New Zealand have been hard to beat on recent tours to Asia. They beat Pakistan in the UAE in 2018 and drew 1-1 in Sri Lanka in 2019 – it’s likely that they’ll pick up at least some points in Bangladesh.

New Zealand have won their most recent Test series at home to Pakistan and West Indies 2-0. Should they repeat those performances, they would pick up the maximum available 240 points from those series. Hypothetically, if they were to draw 1-1 in Bangladesh and win all four of their scheduled home Tests, they would end on 480 points – a final total that is likely to leave them with a decent chance of reaching the final at Lord’s. Win all six of their scheduled Tests and their 540 points will be tough mark to beat.

Australia are in the driving seat at the moment given that they’ve picked up the highest percentage of points available to them of any team in the tournament. But, should they repeat their most recent performances against their upcoming opponents (Bangladesh away, India at home and South Africa away), they would end up with only 130 more points leaving them in a precarious position on 426 points. That said, given Australia’s excellent recent form, the returns of Smith and Warner and South Africa’s downturn in form, it seems likely they will improve on those results.

It is not inconceivable that Pakistan fight their way back into contention. If Pakistan beat Bangladesh in Karachi in April, they will go ahead of New Zealand having played the same number of series. With only 80 and 24 points in the bank after two series for Sri Lanka and South Africa respectively, both face far tougher tasks to secure qualification to the final.

It’s harder to judge West Indies’ chances at this stage given that they have only played one series – at home to India – while Bangladesh would have to go on an unprecedented winning streak to keep their hopes alive.

Whatever happens, New Zealand’s whitewash of India has reignited the inaugural World Test Championship somewhat.


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  1. <a href='https://www.wisden.com/series-stories/sri-lanka-v-england/matt-parkinson-and-dom-bess-impress-in-first-england-warm-up-game' rel='external nofollow ugc' class='url'>Matt Parkinson And Dom Bess Impress In First England Warm-Up Game</a> 4 years ago (Edit)

    […] first Test of the tw0-match Sri Lanka series, which forms a part of the ongoing World Test Championship, commences in Galle on March […]

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