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Aussies weigh in on Championship final

Should the new Test Championship decider be played at a neutral venue, or hosted by the top-placed side? Australia's players give their verdict

One of the unresolved details of the new Test Championship announced last week by the International Cricket Council was the location of the showpiece final. 

Set to begin in July 2019, the Test Championship will see the top nine Test nations play six series – three home and three away – over a two-year period.

 

The top two teams will then compete in a World Test League Championship Final, but the whereabouts of that fixture is yet to be determined by the ICC.

While Lord's, widely known as the Home of Cricket, is tipped to host the final regardless of the competitors, there's a school of thought that believes the team that finishes first should stage the event and give the top-placed team an advantage. 

A handful of Australia's Test players were asked by cricket.com.au whether they would prefer a neutral venue, such as Lord's, to host the final or if the top-placed team should be given home-ground advantage.

David Warner and Mitchell Starc at Lord's during the 2015 Ashes // Getty
David Warner and Mitchell Starc at Lord's during the 2015 Ashes // Getty

"I don't mind both options to be fair," Mitchell Starc said. "If you finish first you probably deserve that advantage but I also think there's merit in it being a neutral venue. 

"If England aren't there and you play it at Lord's that would be pretty special for both teams, being the Home of Cricket and how special the place is. 

"That being said there's a lot of merit in it being a neutral venue and seeing who's the best in neutral conditions. 

"There's obviously a huge advantage of playing at home in certain conditions, whether it be seaming tracks in England and or turning tracks in India. 

"Hopefully it's Australia finishing on top and we can play it at the MCG."


Australia head coach Darren Lehmann agreed with his Test spearhead.

"I think Lord's, Home of Cricket, would be great, but then I also see the advantage of having home ground advantage if you finish top so, I don't mind that one," he said.

"Whichever one they come up with will be fine, it'll be fair for both sides anyway. 

"I suppose if you play at Lord's and it ends up being a draw, a bit like the Shield final scenario so then the top team probably wins."

Steve Smith is a fan of playing the World Test League Championship Final at St John's Wood, and who can blame him, Australia thumped England there on their last visit in 2015 with Smith scoring a career-best 215. 

Highlights: Smith's double century for the ages

"I think Lords would be good," Smith said. "Home of Cricket, just a great place to play cricket.

"We won at Lord's last time anyway, so no problem."

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon wants a neutral venue to ensure an even contest.

"I think it depends," Lyon said. "If we're on top I'd rather play at home but if India are on top I'd rather play India at Lord's if I'm being brutally honest. 

"I like the idea of a neutral venue or the idea of getting a neutral curator in to just make sure the wicket is prepared the way a wicket should be prepared and not tampered with in any way."

Vice-captain David Warner is in favour of a neutral venue but only if it's in the best interest of the game.

"It depends on what their (ICC) outcome is and what they want to achieve for the game," Warner said. "A neutral venue would be fair, but is it the best result for the game and the fans?" 

"It'll be up in arms I think for the first one, but I think a neutral venue would be good, or something to make sure that it's even for both the teams."

In the camp of a home final is Queensland captain Usman Khawaja, who believes the top-ranked team should be rewarded. 

"Home of the first team, they should have home ground advantage if they're first," Khawaja said.

"Lord's, what if England is the second (placed) team? It would be a bit unfair."

Test teammate Josh Hazlewood isn't against a neutral venue, but was in the same boat as Khawaja. 

"I think if you've done well enough to finish on top then you deserve to host the final," Hazlewood said. 

"I like it at Lord's as well though, but if you finish on top you deserve it I think."

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series


First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets


Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets


Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets


Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets


Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets


ODI Series v England


First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets


Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets


Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets


Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets


Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF


Prime Minister's XI


PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets


T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series


First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets


Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets


Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets


Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13


Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16


Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18


Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21