The ICC World Test Championship that was announced last year starts on August 1 when New Zealand meet Sri Lanka in the first Test of the two-match series and the commencement of the Ashes series in Edgbaston on the same day.
The top nine full member nations -- Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies -- compete in a total of 72 Test matches across 27 bi-lateral series over two years.
The top two teams with most points as of April 30, 2021 will then contest in the WTC final in June 2021 in the UK.
The schedule of the WTC...
Each of the nine teams will play six of the eight possible opponents across a two-year period, with three series at home and as many series away and a total of 120 points up for grab within each series.
Australia will host Pakistan, New Zealand (2019-20) and India (2020-21), while travel to take on England (2019), Bangladesh (2020) and South Africa (2021).
The ICC states that the WTC has been introduced to bring context to bilateral Test cricket. Every game in a series will count for points as the world’s best teams go head to head. The WTC honours the importance of the longest format of the game and ensures a pinnacle event for the format just as the World Cups for men and women in the ODI and T20I formats.
Here's how the points will be distributed through the Test Championships
Distribution of points in ICC World Test Championship
The number of matches in each series can vary between a minimum of two matches, to a maximum of five matches. The first cycle of the WTC consists of only five-day matches and will include day-night matches, subject to bilateral and mutual agreement between the opponents.
Only matches identified as part of the WTC will count towards the championship. Any matches featuring the teams outside the top nine - Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe -- will not be part of the Test Championship.
The ICC WTC is not a one-off.
The plans are to have two-year cycles starting with the first one from 1 August 2019 to 31 March 2021. The second one is scheduled from June 2021 to 30 April 2023.
Also, the teams will wear names and numbers on the back of their Test jerseys, which is an ICC initiative to help fans connect with players.