In a lengthy interview on The ICC Review, former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has given his two cents on who would be the possible contenders for the ICC World Test Championship final.
Speaking with ICC Reporter Sanjana Ganesan, Watson tipped both South Africa and Australia as the leading nations to go all the way.
"Right now, the way I see it, it’s going to be hard for South Africa and Australia to not make it," he said.
"They’re both playing really good cricket. Australia played good cricket apart from that last Test against Sri Lanka where they got swept up in turning conditions in the last innings.”
If South Africa and Australia perform poorly in their upcoming Test matches, Watson excitedly mentioned two other teams that could sneak into contention as the tournament enters its final stages.
“You can never discount India and Pakistan, because they’ve got so many match winners, outside of their home countries as well,” Watson said.
“Those two, I’d be very surprised if they don’t come knocking on the door leading into the final.”
Australia and South Africa occupy the top two spots in the WTC standings. Despite both sides having six points each, the Proteas are at the top with 75 as their percentage points, while Australia have 70.
However, as Watson continued, he mentioned that "even as the front-runners in the competition, South Africa cannot afford a serious dip in form. Sloppy performances would leave things open for the chasing pack, namely India and Pakistan, to make a move."
Watson later lamented that he wished he could have played in the World Test Championship during his playing days. He said that having some meaningful context and value to each Test would have changed the way he approached playing red ball cricket, particularly on a batting front.
"I wish I did play in the World Test Championship," he added.
"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.
"For the current playing group, Test cricketers around the world, it’s very special to know there’s a culmination coming with a World Test Championship final."
The World Test Championship final is scheduled to be played Friday 31st March 2023 at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in England.