India captain Virat Kohli on Monday said the ICC World Test Championship (WTC), that gets underway on August 1, will add context to the longest format of the game.
The inaugural edition will see top nine Test teams -- Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies -- fight for the top honours in 71 Test matches across 27 series over the next two years.
The top two teams will then play the final scheduled to be to held in June 2021 in the United Kingdom.
"We are awaiting the ICC World Test Championship with great enthusiasm as it adds context to the longest format of the game," Kohli said in an ICC media release.
"Test cricket is very challenging and coming out on top in the traditional form is always highly satisfying. The Indian team has done really well in recent years and will be fancying its chances in the championship," he added.
Each team will play three home and three away series and will be awarded points for every game.
Each series will count for 120 points, distributed over the number of matches in a series. For example, a two-match series will mean 60 points for each Test while a three-match series will give 40 points to each match. A tie will be 50 percent of the points available, whilst a draw will be a 3:1 points ratio.
"Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport. It is the very essence of cricket and the majority of players want to strive to play the purist form of the game," England's leading Test wicket taker, James Anderson, said.
"The ICC World Test Championship is another brilliant initiative for the sport, adding context and relevance to every Test series. Every Test matters, but even more so now," he added.
Organised by the Member Boards, the matches will be played just like any bilateral series, but with the added context of a competition and one champion team.
Opponents were scheduled by collective agreement of the competing members, with a number of the fixtures already committed within existing member rights agreements.
"The ICC Men's Cricket World Cup this summer showed just how important it is for every game to count and for the world's best teams to go head-to-head," said Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager - Cricket Operations.
"The World Test Championship will bring relevance and context to bilateral Test cricket over the next two years, creating a pinnacle event for the five-day format, just as the World Cups for men and women do in the ODI and T20I formats," he added.
The number of matches in each series can vary between a minimum of two matches, to a maximum of five matches. The first cycle of the WTC consists of only five-day matches and will include day-night matches, subject to bilateral and mutual agreement between the opponents.
Only matches identified as part of the WTC will count towards the championship.
"The World Test Championship is a fantastic initiative. We love playing Test cricket, it's the pinnacle for us, remains hugely popular in Australia and we're fortunate that it enjoys great support at home among players, the media and the public," Australia Test captain, Tim Paine, said.
"To wear the baggy green is the ultimate for all Australian cricketers and if the World Test Championship helps to ensure that all countries make Tests a high priority then that has to be good news for the game in general and the continuing health of the format in particular."