World Test Championship

What it means to play in the WTC Final - in the words of those involved

World Test Championship

By Tom Bennett at The Oval

Hit For Six!

The ICC World Test Championship may be just four years old, but its significance to the world’s top players is already well-established.

Australia and India will compete for the second WTC title this week, hoping to follow in the footsteps of New Zealand in lifting the glittering WTC mace.

And for Australia this match represents a chance to add the one piece of major ICC silverware that the national team is missing from their trophy cabinet, with captain Pat Cummins excited by the opportunity to play in a Test final.

“I think missing the first one, this second one feels like it's a bit more significant,” Cummins said at The Oval on Tuesday.

“Again I think it's the only trophy that Australian cricket hasn't won. All these things at the time feel special, but maybe in 10 years' time when you look back at career achievements, these are the ones that really stand out.

“I just had a meeting there where they said it's probably going to be the most watched Test match ever played. So hopefully this event is a real event that's here to stay.”

Video World Test Championship 06 Jun 23
Captains' call: Rohit Sharma and Pat Cummins on their WTC Final hopes
India captain Rohit Sharma and Australia skipper Pat Cummins discuss the ICC World Test Championship Final at the Captains' Photo event with Sanjana Ganesan ahead of the decider at The Oval

Australia follow this World Test Championship Final with an away Ashes series on a tour that could cement this generation’s legacy.

And India have a similar chance to make history this year and end a decade-long wait for an ICC trophy, with both this World Test Championship and their home ICC Men's Cricket World Cup later this year representing huge moments in the careers of this crop of Indian cricketers.

“I want to win games, I want to win championships, that is what you play for,” India skipper Rohit Sharma said in his media conference.

“It will be nice to win some titles, win some extraordinary series. But, having said that, I genuinely feel that we don't want to put too much pressure on ourselves by overthinking about this kind of (legacy) stuff.”

Video World Test Championship 06 Jun 23
Behind the scenes at India's content day | WTC23 Final
The India squad fronts the cameras ahead of the ICC World Test Championship Final

Australia batter Steve Smith has already cemented his place among the greats of the game, scoring 8792 Test runs and 30 Test centuries to-date in his stunning career. Yet Smith believes that the opportunity to win a WTC title adds even more clout to the longest form of the game.

“It's really important. I think the World Test Championship now, having the two best teams play in a final, I think's great,” Smith said. “It adds a little bit more relevance I suppose to Test cricket.

“It’s what we all work towards for a couple of years. And this week should be an exciting one and the guys are looking forward to it.”

Video World Test Championship 04 Jun 23
Behind the scenes at Australia's content day | WTC23 Final
In the build-up to the ICC World Test Championship Final, the Australian team fronts the cameras for content day.

While Smith has plenty of honours already to his name, India all-rounder Shardul Thakur is hoping to play a part in winning a first major title of his career in what will be only his ninth Test appearance should he be selected.

“I feel that ICC event finals especially, you don’t get to play them everywhere each and every year, so it’s probably for a few players or somebody like me, a once-in-a-lifetime moment,” Thakur said.

“All that I want is to make it count. It’s always a special moment when you’re representing your country. Being involved in this Final, from 7 June onwards in England for the World Test Championship, it feels really special, I’m honoured.”

Thakur has played his part in getting India to the final, not least with his efforts in English conditions when India toured in 2021 and the delayed fifth Test in 2022. And his coach Rahul Dravid is relishing the opportunity to bring two years of excellent work to a triumphant end.

“It's been two years of hard work to get here with quite a few ups and downs along the way,” Dravid told the assembled media in his press conference at The Oval in south London. 

“It's something that you start the cycle aspiring to be in the top two teams so that you can get an opportunity to play this game. We’re looking forward to it and hoping for a good game of cricket.” 


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