Australian cricket legend Shane Watson has run his eye over prospective ICC World Test Championship finalists, with the cycle likely to reach a dramatic conclusion.
Speaking to Sanjana Ganesan on The ICC Review, Watson praised the ICC World Test Championship, with consequence and entertainment now in almost every matchup.
Competition across the 2021-2023 cycle to date has seen a reasonable level of parity among the nine teams and, as the business end approaches, every match impacts the table in a meaningful way.
The final of the ongoing cycle is set to be played next year, but the race for the top two spots in the league table is heating up. South Africa and Australia occupy the qualification spots for now, but face some tough series to hold on to those positions.
Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan lie in wait to pounce on any slip-up.
“Right now, the way I see it, it’s going to be hard for South Africa and Australia to not make it”, Watson said, when asked to predict the two finalists.
“They’re both playing really good cricket. Australia played good cricket apart from that last Test against Sri Lanka where they got swept upin turning conditions in the last innings.
Sloppy performances would leave things open for the chasing pack, namely India and Pakistan, to make a move.
Importantly, Pakistan have home field advantage in all of their remaining five fixtures, while India host Australia for four of their six remaining WTC matches.
“You can never discount India and Pakistan, because they’ve got so many match winners, outside of their home countries as well,” Watson added.
“Those two, I’d be very surprised if they don’t come knocking on the door leading into the final.”
Keeping an eye on the competition, there is an element of envy for Watson watching on, with the all-rounder boasting 59-Test appearances but lamenting the late timing of the WTC’s introduction.
“Yes, I wish I did (play in the WTC). Even in my playing days, in Test cricket, there was a lot of talk about the ICC World Test Championship coming into play, and it took way too long to be put into place, and unfortunately, I missed out on it,” said Watson.
“I was very fortunate to play a ‘Super Test’ in 2005, Australia against a World XI, which was something very special – it was one of the first Test matches I played.
“That was special to be a part of, but this is even more so, to be able to win an ICC event and it being in Test cricket.”
“For the current playing group, Test cricketers around the world, it’s very special to know there’s a culmination coming with a (WTC) final.
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