As India and England went into the fourth and final match in Ahmedabad on Thursday, Australia were said to be keeping an eye peeled. If England, then 1-2 in arrears, won this one, the points positions would have the Australians making the International Cricket Council’s World Test Championship final where New Zealand had already booked their berth. India, of course, sat pretty, with just a draw sending them through. These varied points of the competitive focus had been anticipated when the WTC was thought of and then began to be worked on, with the ICC saying Test cricket would thus be given a “context” which would add considerably to its appeal, lending it a fresh lease of life at a time when domestic Twenty20 tournaments here, there and virtually everywhere had become the game’s staple.
But quite a while before the India-England series, the ICC’s new boss, Greg Barclay, the New Zealander, had let it be known that he was not sure that the WTC’s inaugural season would not be its last. The gloomy forecast dates from 2020, soon after Barclay’s ascent to the most senior position in the game. There doubtless were factors that discouraged effervescent optimism. The competition coincided with the coronavirus, which swept the world in a terrifying, seemingly unstoppable surge and caused a shutdown which would later have to be coped with by means of what came to be called bio-secure bubbles.
The schedule took a nasty hit. And many within the game and out of it saw “the goalpost being shifted” midway through the contests as percentage points became the determinant in a departure from the rules previously announced. India, it was said at the time, were not really pleased as punch as the advantage they had worked to secure was perceived to be in danger of being nullified.
But Barclay spoke also of the WTC being quite unaffordable for a good many countries. Specifics have been scarce but you hardly need Leonardo da Vinci’s power of imagination to conclude whom he meant. Which precisely is where two questions crop up. First, why can the ICC, which is not exactly broke, not help the underresourced ones so a competition it deemed important enough to set going does not come a cropper?
Secondly, why was the WTC given the green light by it if it was beyond the means of so many of its participants? It may be diificult, on the face of it, to arrive at an incontrovertible conclusion about which of the inquiries is more important, but the way things are suggests the cavalier way the big boys go about their job when it comes to Test cricket.
Life in their Dubai ivory tower must really be a fairytale if they fail to apprehend a credibility crisis should a competition begun with a sufficiency of fanfare comes to be dumped within a season or two of it being gone through strenuously.