The Oval, Lord’s to host 2023, 2025 WTC finals
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New Zealand are the defending WTC champions (AFP/Getty Images)
New Zealand are the defending WTC champions (AFP/Getty Images)

THE final of the ongoing ICC World Test Championship will be held at The Oval in June 2023, while Lord’s will stage the final of the next edition, in 2025, the ICC announced yesterday.

While the dates for the 2023 WTC final have not yet been confirmed, ESPNcricinfo has learned that it will be held before the Ashes, which starts on June 16 in Birmingham.

This will make it three WTC finals in a row to be played in England, with the first one, in 2021, being held at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl.

New Zealand beat India to win the trophy then. On that occasion, the final was originally scheduled for Lord’s, but the Ageas Bowl’s on-site hospitality arrangements made it the top choice because of the COVID-19 situation at the time.

The WTC final is contested by the top two teams on the table at the end of each cycle – Australia lead the table in the ongoing cycle, followed by South Africa; Sri Lanka are third, with India and Pakistan behind them. There are still some matches left in this cycle, so the standings could well change by the time the finalists are decided.

In fact, South Africa were leading the table for a while, but a 2-1 series loss in England last month has pushed them down. They have two series remaining in this cycle – against Australia (away) and West Indies (at home).

They face tough competition from India, who also have two Test series remaining in this cycle – against Bangladesh (away) and Australia (at home). Australia have nine more Tests in this cycle, while Pakistan and Sri Lanka, too, have a shot at making the top two.

“We are delighted to be hosting next year’s ICC World Test Championship Final at The Oval which has such a rich legacy and an amazing atmosphere, which is ideal for such an important fixture on the calendar,” ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said in a statement. “Following that we will then take the 2025 Final to Lord’s which will provide a fitting backdrop to the ultimate Test.”

TRUNCATED IPL 2023 FOR ENGLAND, AUSTRALIA PLAYERS?
England have released their home schedule for next summer. It starts with a one-off Test against Ireland on June 1. The Ashes are then scheduled to begin from June 16 in Birmingham. And that could mean some England and even Australia players might leave the IPL early.

While the dates for IPL 2023 have not been released yet, last year the tournament stretched till the last week of May, and the 2023 edition is expected to be longer. (Cricinfo)

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