England-New Zealand series could’ve been held after WTC final: Tendulkar

‘Having played two Tests already, Kiwis have edge’
MUMBAI: Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar is looking forward to the WTC Final, but not really convinced with the hype and build-up for the tournament, which he feels is “kind of missing”.
“There were so many breaks due to the pandemic and the other challenges in the wake of it, because of which the hype and excitement of a final is missing. When a tournament goes on without a break – like a 50-over WC or a T20 WC – there’s a sense of continuity to it.
“There’s a build-up to these tournaments which is missing in this case,” Tendulkar told TOI in a chat on Monday.
Tendulkar believes both the teams are perfectly placed on paper to make the contest a challenging one. New Zealand, he thinks, have an edge here because of the two Tests they played against England. The series between England and New Zealand wasn’t going to affect the WTC Final in any way. So, couldn’t the ICC have switched the series to after the final, allowing both teams to enter the game on equal footing?
“I don’t know when the New Zealand vs England series was decided. I’d like to believe that it was decided way in advance, way before New Zealand booked their spot in the Final. Maybe it’s a coincidence. This England vs New Zealand series was not going to contribute to the WTC Final.. so maybe the WTC Final first and then this series (could have been staged).
“This is, without any doubt, another way to look at it. New Zealand will have that slight edge because they’ve played the two Tests against England while India haven’t had practice matches except for playing between themselves,” said Tendulkar.
Coming back to the continuity factor, Tendulkar recalled India playing two Tests in New Zealand in February 2020 and then playing their next Test series in the month of December in Australia.
“So, there was too much gap in between for that excitement level – in terms of a build-up – to stay intact. From the teams’ point of view, it’s huge, no doubt. But ideally, one would enjoy a shorter span for the World Test Championship to be played in – let’s say around three months during which teams play each other – and then you finish it off with a ‘series final,'” he said.
Like in any sport, a final is always just one game. “But in the case of Test cricket, to get to the final, you’re playing two or three Test series, or for that matter, against four matches in a series (like in the case of Australia and England). And then you play just one Test to decide the championship.
“Where’s the continuity? It should actually be a World Test Championship series, not just one match. Because to get to this point, you’ve played Test series involving two or three Tests or more. So, it shouldn’t have just been a World Test Championship Final but the World Test Championship Final Series. Because you’ve played series to get to this point,” said the former India batsman.
Tendulkar feels that had there been only one match in every series played over the last two years, then one final would have made sense. “Maybe due to time constraints, this wasn’t possible. In that case what the ICC can do (going forward) is pick one particular match in a series – first or second or third or fourth, whichever – and the result of that one game should be allocated to the WTC points tally and the remaining matches can be purely bilateral. That way, one final can be justified. But if the filter is an entire series, then the WTC Final should also be a series,” he says.
While New Zealand have an edge in terms of preparation, Tendulkar thinks India too will be well-prepared, considering there’s not a single player in this team who hasn’t played any cricket in England, be it Tests or with India ‘A’.
“That’s a good thing. Our players – in different capacities – have played in England, be it Test cricket or India ‘A’ team. So the conditions are not completely foreign to them,” he said.

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