The International Cricket Council at their annual conference in Edinburgh will be discussing the future of Tests and possibility of a championship across a two-year cycle. The conference will be held from June 27 to July 2. The proposed revamp will focus on increasing the significance of Test series and making them more relevant on a wider scale.
Despite the growing popularity of T20 format and decent success of the 50-over World Cup, ICC is not at all happy with the response in Test cricket even in the sub-continent, from where most of the global revenue still generates.
ICC apparently believes if all the Test matches once become part of a bigger competition, it will attract more spectators as well as it will give relevance to the contests which otherwise involve only two teams.
“If we have a championship, where teams play each other home and away in three-match series with the one with maximum points emerging champions after two years and one getting relegated, it would mean there is something at stake. In the present bilateral format, many Tests fail to generate interest even in the host nation,” A source close to ICC revealed on Sunday.
Some reports are also suggesting ICC members are really concerned over diminishing returns of Test cricket, not only that, there is also a debate going on over the structure. Some have suggested creating two tiers of seven and five teams with a promotion and relegation system. Two teams from the ICC ODI ranking table among the 12 will get Test status in this structure.
There also have been suggestions to divide the 10 Test-playing teams in two tiers of six and four. The decision now completely lies with the ICC board of directors, that includes heads of 10 Test-playing member boards along with representatives from three associate member nations apart from ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, president Zaheer Abbas, and chief executive officer David Richardson.
Sources meanwhile have ruled out reports which claimed ICC is planning to start a new one-day championship with 13 teams. “One-day cricket has a context as in every match counts towards qualification for the World Cup. T20 has been a successful venture in many parts. The focus is primarily on Test cricket, where several bilateral series are not meaningful. That’s why there are talks of having a championship with something to play for in every match. Finishing it in two years will keep interest alive. Suggestions have been tabled. The ICC board takes the final call.”
On Sunday there were reports suggesting, plans are now well-advanced to introduce a new ODI league from 2019 involving 13 nations – believed to be the ten Test teams, Afghanistan, Ireland and one other Associate, with Nepal claimed by some as the preferred option in a debate which still has a long way to run.
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