As the International Cricket Council officially launched the inaugural ICC World Test Championship, cricketers across the world welcomed it with open hearts. In a statement released on Monday, ICC General Manager Geoff Allardice said the upcoming championship, starting from the first Ashes Test, will bring greater relevance to bilateral Test series and matches and hoped it would turn out to be a pinnacle event for the oldest format of the game.

“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. 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,” said Allardice in the statement.

Indian captain Virat Kohli said that the Indian side has been waiting for it with great enthusiasm and given how well they have been in Test cricket in recent years, they will be fancying their chances in the Championship. “We are awaiting the ICC World Test Championship with great enthusiasm as it adds context to the longest format of the game. 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,” Kohli said.

Other than him veteran England pacer James Anderson and Australian captain also opened up about the championship, ahead of the first Ashes Test. “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 purest form of the game. 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,” England pacer James Anderson said.

“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. 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,” Australian skipper Tim Paine said.

The championship will see nine top-ranked Test teams playing 71 matches in 27 series over the course of two years. The top two teams at the end of it will play a five-day final at the Lord’s to be crowned the world champions of the oldest format.

Teams will be ranked on the basis of the points earned by them during the course of WTC. For example, a series of two Tests will 60 points for each match, while a three-match series will see the teams taking 40 points for one win. In case of a tie, points will be divided equally, whereas a draw will see points distributed in a ratio of 3:1.