ICC World Test Championship 2019-21: The WTC Team of the Tournament
The inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship comes to an end with the WTC Final between India and New Zealand. A total of 59 Test matches were played in this two-year cycle starting in August 2019. In the process, a few series were ven canceled for most teams due to COVID-19, leading to a change in the points system deciding the team standings in the Championship. Despite that fact, the entire Test Championship cycle witnessed some memorable Test matches ranging from Ben Stokes' Headingley heist to India's miraculous victory against Australia.
All throughout the ICC Test Championship, there were a few individuals who hogged all the possible limelight. Be it in the batting or the bowling department, a few of them stood tall to guide the team with safety. Such players exhibited consistency with their brilliant performances for a major course of the ICC World Test Championship 2019-21. As a result, their showing in the WTC might earn them a place in the Team of the tournament.
Here, we attempt to pick the ICC WTC Team of the tournament 2019-21:
Openers: Rohit Sharma and Dimuth Karunaratne
M: 11, Runs: 1030, Hs: 212, Avg: 64.37, 100s: 4, 50s: 2
The Indian opener discovered his liking for Test cricket at the top of the order with a permanent spot in the XI. Sharma opened for the first time in Test cricket against South Africa where he scored centuries in each innings in his debut as an opener. Later, he even played a crucial role in India's historic series win down under 2020-21. With such an impeccable record, the 34-year old deserves a place in the WTC team of the tournament.
M: 10, Runs: 999, Hs: 244, Avg: 50.55, 100s: 4, 50s: 4
The left-handed opener started his World Test Championship campaign with a flourishing knock of 244 against New Zealand at home. He scored a century at one of the toughest tracks at Johannesburg against South Africa and proved his worth as an opener for Sri Lanka. The experienced campaigner has been consistent in the past and rightfully earns a spot in the Team of the tournament.
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Middler Order: Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, and Kane Williamson
M: 13, Runs: 1675, Hs: 215, Avg: 72.82, 100s: 5, 50s: 9
Marnus Labuschagne made his debut as a concussion replacement of Steve Smith in the 2nd Test Ashes in 2019. Ever since the Lord's Test, Australia's No.3 hasn't looked back while emerging as the highest run-getter in the first edition of the ICC World Test Championship. With 1672 runs at an average of 72, Labuschagne sits comfortably atop the list with most runs in WTC 2019-21. He's a certainty in the Team of the WTC and is a definite contender for the player of the tournament too.
M: 11, Runs: 1341, Hs: 211, Avg: 47.82, 100s: 3, 50s: 8
Making a comeback after a hiatus of a year in Test cricket, Steve Smith received a hostile reception in England in 2019. However, he ensured his performances turned the boos into applause as he scored twin centuries in his comeback Test at Edgbaston to lead Australia's batting in an intense affair.
In a high-pressure Ashes 2019, Smith performed against the odds and played a major role in helping Australia retain an away Ashes since 2001. However, Smith's contribution at home against India in 2020 couldn't prevent the Indian caravan as the visitors toppled the Kangaroos to claim the series 2-1.
Kane Williamson (C)
M: 9, Runs: 817, Hs: 251, Avg: 58.35, 100s: 3, 50s: 1
Kane Williamson wouldn't have made it to the WTC Test team of the tournament purely for his batting stats and contributions. However, the Kiwi skipper was instrumental in guiding his team to the WTC final and earns a spot in the XI majorly due to his captaincy. He had a decent outing in the WTC with the bat in hand. The right-handed batsman briefly claimed the No.1 spot in the ICC Test rankings for batsman during the home series against West Indies.
Wicket-Keeper: Rishabh Pant
M: 11, Runs: 662, Hs: 101, Avg: 41.37, 100s: 1, 50s: 4
Rishabh Pant is an automatic choice in the WTC team of the tournament. For his sheer impact batting at No.6, Pant has made huge progress in the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship. He was the key figure in ensuring an improbable Gabba win for India. The southpaw has grown by leaps and bounds, both in terms of his keeping skills and as a batter in the lower middle-order. The Delhi batsman has convincingly earned the tag of an all-rounder as someone who can affect a quick turnaround in the context of the match.
All-Rounders: Ben Stokes, Ravichandran Ashwin
M: 17, Runs: 1334, Avg: 46, Wickets: 34, Bowl Avg: 26.26
Ben Stokes was outstanding in this World Test Championship starting with a classical Ashes performance against Australia. He had a huge impact as an all-rounder for England in inflicting match-winning performances at a few instances. Stokes' spectacular 135* at Headingley could potentially be the best individual performance in the entire two-year period in the WTC cycle. Quite aptly, Stokes is part of the team of the tournament in 2019-21
M: 13, Runs: 295, Avg: 21, Wickets: 67, Bowl Avg: 20.88
Undoubtedly, India's Ravichandran Ashwin was the best spinner across the WTC 2019-21. He played a crucial role in India's home series win against England and South Africa. The off-spinner even delivered the goods when it mattered the most on an away tour in Australia. His performance down under could potentially end up being a major highlight in Ashwin's Test career. He picked 15 wickets in the three Tests and was the leader of the attack for the Indian team on pitches that usually don't spinners a great deal. For his consistent run throughout the WTC, he earns a spot in the WTC Team of the tournament.
Bowlers: Pat Cummins, Kyle Jamieson, Stuart Broad
M: 14, Wickets: 70, Avg: 21, BBI: 7/69
Pat Cummins is ranked the No.1 Test bowler in the World for quite some time now. For obvious reasons, Cummins has been a top-level performer for Australia during the entire course of WTC and is likely to finish as the highest wicket-taker of the tournament. The Australian spearhead was the wrecker-in-chief against England in Ashes and played a crucial role in helping his team retain the urn. His performances also hold in contention for the player of the tournament in WTC 2021.
M: 6, Wickets: 36, Avg: 13.27, BBI: 6/48
Kyle Jamieson made his Test debut in 2020 and was one of the finest debutants for New Zealand. The Kiwi pacer bowls from an uncanny height which often troubles the batters. He made a bright start to his Test career against India in the two-match series. He picked nine wickets including a fifer and caused huge concerns for the Indian line-up in conditions conducive for seam bowling. Jamieson might be a debatable pick in the XI but makes the side for his uncanny ability to make things happen in a short span of time.
M: 17, Wickets: 69, Avg: 20.08, BBI: 6/31
Stuart Broad was magnificent with the ball in this World Test Championship. He had fascinating summer at home against the Windies and Pakistan after the Covid-19 break. He picked 23 wickets in the drawn Ashes of 2019 and was the best bowler after Pat Cummins in this high-pressure series. His ability to take a wicket on key time makes his place into it the best XI of WTC.