As a silver coin spun in the early September London air, Tim Paine correctly guessed the side on which it would land.
The problems with the proposed (and now scrapped) ICC World Test Championship were many and varied, but can you imagine a format that rewarded the two hottest Test teams at the end of the calendar year or set period of 12 months?
Right now that match-up might look something like Australia versus New Zealand. Both have had a phenomenal run of late and could ride that form for another six months and beyond. Imagine the anticipation around this Test match-up.
Now I’m not suggesting that the average cricket fan from around the world will show that much interest. But in terms of rewarding two nations for playing the best cricket in recent times, this could be the format.
It would also be extremely exciting for Australia and New Zealand fans right now.
How many times over the years have you found yourself asking the question: “Man, if only these two teams could have a one-off match-up right now”.
So how could it work?
The calculation period goes for 12 months. The best two teams are chosen based on a number of factors, whether win/loss record, batting average and bowling average, weighting depending on opponent ranking, bonuses for innings wins, and so on.
Home-ground advantage for the one-off Test is awarded to the team with the highest ‘rating’ after the set period.
The Test match is scheduled at the soonest opportunity to suit both teams, overriding any ODI tours and T20 games in due respect to the Test format.
The Test would be in the timeless format, with the winner being awarded the ICC Test World Cup.
The spoils of broadcast rights could be shared between the two competing nations, after the ICC has taken a cut of course.
Think about it. It’s nearly impossible to host a World Cup tournament for Test cricket. This is not a game that is played over a few hours. It’s never going to happen.
The qualifying rules make it very hard to schedule a host nation, although not too hard to fix you would think.
Cricket could also lay claim to being the first sport in history to host a World Cup with just two teams competing. How cool is that?
We need a Test tournament that is actually exciting; a tournament that gets fans on both sides absolutely salivating at the idea.
Right now, the Kiwis and Aussies are applauding each other over recent resurgences and brilliant cricket. We’re also completely gutted that we have to wait years before our two sides play each other again.
How does that make any sense for the fans?
As it stands, we will not see these current two teams go toe to toe with each other. The next time they do, there might be no Johnson, no Harris, no Haddin, no McCullum, and I find that sad.
Let’s reward Test teams when they are ‘on fire’. Let’s come up with some Test format ideas that actually make sense and are relatively easy to pull off.
Let’s put a bit of innovation into Test cricket scheduling and give the fans what they want.