Lord’s may need to give up one of two bilateral Evaluation matches it is scheduled to sponsor in 2021 if the ICC is to get its wish for a showpiece World Test Championship (WTC) closing at an iconic venue following the fashion of the Centenary Tests of 1977 and 1980.
Lord’s, broadly known as’the home of cricket’, could be seen as an obvious venue for the closing and is understood to be the preferred location by some at the ICC.
But Lord’s is already scheduled to host two Tests in the English summer of 2021. While only one of these, a game between England and India, is currently confirmed, it’s expected the ground will also host Afghanistan’s first Test against England earlier in this summer season.
Why were Lord’s to be allocated the Test Championship final, among those matches – likely the Afghanistan Test; it’s hard to envisage any ground giving up the right to sponsor an India Test – would almost surely must go elsewhere. Edgbaston, who aren’t scheduled to sponsor a Test in 2021, could be one obvious candidate should this type of match become accessible, though The Oval, the earliest Test ground in England, and Old Trafford, would be among those keen to sponsor the WTC final.
Both the ICC and member countries are hopeful that the WTC will inject much broader attention into Test cricket beyond its own strongholds in England and Australia, in which the prestigious nature of the struggle for the Ashes has defined the long-from game in both countries.
Other countries, particularly the likes of South Africa, New Zealand and the West Indies, have fought to keep interest in Test cricket in part because they lack the opportunity to lift a trophy at one defining moment as world champions – something given to teams at the ODI and Twenty20 formats.
England was chosen as the venue for the closing in part due to the popularity for Test cricket in the country and the hope that the grounds would be full even though England are not playing.