The road to international cricket’s first Test Championship final has been formally unveiled, but debate remains over who exactly will host it – England or the championship table-toppers.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that there is a difference of opinion over where the final should be held. The ICC and most member boards have agreed that the first two finals – in 2021 and 2023 – should be held in the country where the game originated; for instance, New Zealand’s FTP schedule for 2019-23, released by NZC on Wednesday, had the final pencilled in for June 2021, with England as the host.
The BCCI, however, is believed to be of the view that the final should be hosted by whichever team finishes at the top of the championship table at the cut-off date for championship matches – which is the end of March 2021 in the case of the inaugural edition.
There are commercial and broadcasting concerns into the bargain too as, according to an ICC working paper presented at a meeting in April and seen by ESPNcricinfo, the Test Championship final will be considered an ICC event, with commercial and broadcasting rights to the five-day match to be retained by the global governing body.
The ICC would bear the cost of “marketing, promoting and delivering” the final and retain all media rights to the final in 2021 and 2023. The paper also says that Star, the ICC’s host broadcaster, has a proposal to pay $10 million for each final for the India-only market. Syndication revenue outside of India is projected at $5 million per event. This would be the first Test to be played under such conditions, with Test rights traditionally held by the host country.
But these details are not yet final, and the matter is expected to be discussed at the ICC annual conference later this month.
James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive and a major driver of the Test Championship and ODI leagues, said that the commercial rights value of the two finals – by some estimates expected to reap as much as USD 40 million in addition to bilateral series over the next four years – needed to be discussed in conjunction with a final decision over where they would be held.
“That hasn’t been totally worked through yet,” Sutherland said. “As a starting point in my mind the first thing we need to work out is where it’s going to be played. Once we’ve worked out where it’s going to be played the conversation would need to take place at that host country because it would have an immediate impact on their own local broadcasting deal then things can get sorted from there. That’s something that is not a short-term priority but will need to be sorted out over the course of the next 12 months.”