The International Cricket Council (ICC) is set to propose a new Test Championship scheduled to be conducted every three years when the boards gather to meet in Dubai on Monday. This move comes as the latest step towards safeguarding the longest format of the game from the thriving T20 format.
The proposal, however, has been unable to gain unanimous support from all the Test-playing members. While the idea is being backed by England, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa, Cricketing boards of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe stand in opposition.
The bone of contention is mainly between India and the ICC as the two boards debate over the new revenue model. The BCCI has shown its reservation over the reorganisation of the ICC’s financial structure and stands with the support of neighbouring cricket boards of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
The matter took a different level of twist when India threatened to pull itself out of the Champions Trophy which is set to commence in England from June.
“This is a crucial time for decision-making at the ICC,” Tony Irish, the chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, told Telegraph Sport.
“A Test league and an ODI league between countries must be introduced. If that doesn’t happen, then international cricket, including Test cricket, will increasingly go backwards across the globe.”
The club over country debate was the first main concern that gripped international cricket with the rise of T20 cricket, especially the franchise model. Players have also been left in a critical position where they have to balance out international cricket as well as club commitments.
A recent example is of AB de Villiers who will not be playing Test cricket for South Africa against England but is currently playing a full IPL season for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. West Indies stars like Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and others also face this issue and are often criticised by purists for choosing money over country.
Players from ECB, ACB and BCCI do not have such issues as they are paid handsomely and prioritise Test cricket over T20. The debate over this fact is unending and may never reach any conclusion as players put forward justifiable reason in their defence.
ICC feels that the only way to help Test cricket compete the growing T20 cricket’s market is by changing the overall structure.
“The alternative cricket market of T20 leagues is growing and flourishing,” said Irish.
“These leagues are good for the game but, with the exception of the cricket World Cup, Champions Trophy and World T20, which are all good events, international cricket is simply not keeping up.”
“For the whole game to flourish, the ICC must a find a way to international cricket and the leagues to co-exist in a coherent overall structure,” said Irish.
“With the right collective will this is possible. The time for it is now.”