IMAGE: Kohli said every Test match will now have a value attached to it, and every team has the extra incentive to push for a result. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
India captain Virat Kohli believes the introduction of the World Test Championship will make the five-day format more exciting for both the fans and the players as well.
“It is a great thing to be honest, we all were looking forward to it. Very honestly, we felt like there were a few series in between where after big tours we felt like maybe a one-off Test or a couple of Tests were not apt for the moment, but this gives a lot of context to all kinds of cricket that we are going to play.”
“It is a great thing for Test cricket at the moment because we have been talking about it for the last 2-3 years, regardless of how we have played as a team and the interest of the fans building because of that, going for results and all that sort of stuff,” he said, in Mumbai, on Monday, on the eve of the Indian team’s departure to the West Indies.
India will play three T20Is, three ODIs followed by two Tests, which will be part of the World Test Championship.
The series starts with the first two T20I games in Florida, USA, before the two teams continue the rest of the games in the Caribbean.
The ICC World Test Championship kicks-off on August 1 when New Zealand meet Sri Lanka in the first Test of the two-match series and the commencement of the Ashes series in Edgbaston on the same day.
The top nine full member nations — Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies — compete in a total of 72 Test matches across 27 bi-lateral series over two years.
The top two teams with most points as of April 30, 2021 will then contest in the World Test Championship final in June 2021 in the UK.
Kohli said every Test match will now have a value attached to it, and every team has the extra incentive to push for a result.
“Test cricket really needed a boost. The players were always putting in the effort but from a global point of view an incentive attached in a way which the Test Championship presents. I think for all the cricketers involved now, every session and every game will be more intense, there will be more on the line. So it will be challenging, but all the more exciting and all the teams I am sure are going to enjoy a lot through this whole journey of the Test Championships,” he said.
The India captain stated that it is natural that the focus will now shift away from the ODIs format after a highly-successful World Cup, with the introduction of the World Test Championship and back to back T20 World Cups — in 2020 and 2021.
“When you have three formats, it is very difficult to all keep three relevant at the same time. And after the highs of a tournament like the World Cup, it is logical the focus will shift to a T20 World Cup but the Test Championship will keep the interest going in Test cricket as well. So that’s the nature of international cricket today, you will have to compromise on one format to keep the other two relevant.”
“And I am glad that people have though about Test cricket, to keep it relevant through the Test Championships. When you focus on T20 easily you can say let’s forget both the formats, let’s just make the sport exciting for people to watch and entertainment.”
“I think for the pure joy of playing cricket and executing your skills as cricketers, Test cricket is the most important format, and for me nothing comes above Test cricket. And the fact that the Test Championship will keep excitement going there and T20 format there is so much to look forward to as well,” he said.
There were reports that Kohli would take a break from the limited overs’ series against West Indies after a busy schedule in the last year or so.
But the India skipper squashed all doubts saying his workload is being constantly monitored and he was never asked to take a break.
“Our rest period is put on record, it is all on email to the Board, and it is done by the physio and the trainer together. I don’t know what report they have created, I honestly haven’t seen it. They hadn’t had any conversation with any of the players till that point of time.”
“So in my mind until the trainer and physio tell me that now you need to rest and recover because your progress is such and such, because we collect the data from all games and for some players the workload is more than the others. I averaged about 15 kilometres a game during the World Cup so it really depends on those two professionals. Everyone is doing a job, everyone has been assigned a responsibility. I don’t know the communication that was sent out to the selectors, but nothing was communicated to me to rest,” he added.
He also gave his backing to his deputy Ajinkya Rahane in the Test format, saying he is one of the pillars of the Indian batting line-up.
“Jinks (Rahane) has been a solid player for us through and through and that’s always been our communication. He is one of the most sorted guys, really, really composed, reads the game well also.”
“He is a priceless fielder, we have all seen the impact he can make in Test cricket with his slip catching and everything. I think under pressure, he has performed really well. The guy averages 43 in Test cricket, it’s not like he is in the early 30s. I don’t think we should jump the gun on someone like Jinks because he has done the job for you under pressure.”
“It’s a patch that anyone can go through but I think he will come around because he is that good a player and when he does, we know he can be very consistent and he is one of the pillars of our batting order that we can bank on. Him and Pujara, as I’ve said, have been our most solid Test players. I am sure along with Pujara playing so well, myself at 4, Jinks will also come into the groove. Once we starts scoring, he can spring in scores on a consistent basis. We are not at all worried about where he’s placed. It’s about giving him confidence and he really wants to turn it around. That’s the most important thing and that’s all that matters,” he said.