In a watershed moment for the game, the International Cricket Council, on Friday (October 13), approved the Test Championship and One-Day International League on the final day of the governing body’s meeting in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Test Championship, which is set to begin after the 2019 World Cup, will see the top nine teams playing six series – three at home and three away. The teams will have to play at least a couple of Tests in a series while it can also get extended to as much as five, not to disturb the iconic series like the Ashes. Meanwhile, after the conclusion of six series for each side, the top two teams by April 2021 will lock horns in the championship final in England in June of that year.
Meanwhile, the ODI league, which will see top 13 teams battling it out to earn the direct qualifications for the World Cup, will be staged between 2020-21. However, after the 2023 World Cup, the two-year duration will be converted to a three-year league. Each side will play eight series during that period with each series having more than three matches.
Congratulating the member bodies for reaching the agreement, Shashank Manohar, the ICC chairman, said the new structure would bring more context and meaning to bilateral cricket.
“I would like to congratulate our members on reaching this agreement and putting the interests of the development of the game first,” he said. “Bringing context to bilateral cricket is not a new challenge, but this is the first time a genuine solution has been agreed on.
“This means fans around the world can enjoy international cricket knowing every game counts and in the case of the ODI league, it counts towards qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup,” he added.
Meanwhile, the apex body of the game also approved the trial of the much-debated four-day Tests matches until the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. At the same time, the ICC made it clear that all the matches of the Test championship will be of five days.
“Our priority was to develop an international cricket structure that gave context and meaning across international cricket and particularly in the Test arena. This has been delivered, and every Test in the new League will be a five-day Test format,” the ICC chief executive David Richardson said.
“However throughout the discussions about the future of Test cricket it became clear that whilst context is crucial we must also consider alternatives and trial initiatives that may support the future viability of Test cricket.
“The trial is exactly that, a trial, just in the same way day-night Tests and technology have been trialled by members. Four-day Tests will also provide the new Test playing countries with more opportunities to play the longer version of the game against more experienced opponents, which, in turn, will help them to hone their skills and close the gap with the top-nine ranked teams,” he added.
Speaking of the Test champions and ODI league, Richardson said: “This is a significant point in time for ICC members and our collective desire to secure a vibrant future for international bilateral cricket. The approval of both leagues is the conclusion of two years of work from the members who have explored a whole range of options to bring context to every game. The ICC Board decision today means we can now go and finalise a playing schedule for the first edition as well as the points system, hosting arrangements and competition terms.”