Sri Lankan Cricket Board has made it clear that they are in strong opposition to the proposed two-tier Test cricket system, and claimed it “can’t see any benefit for Sri Lankan cricket, the game, or the players”. SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala also raised question marks over the financial ramifications of this controversial tiered system, and suggested the current path regarding full membership and Test status for Associate teams, was to some extent adequate.
The proposal to divide Test cricket into two tires – with seven teams in tier one, and five, including two new Test nations, in the second tier – was discussed with some positive note at the ICC’s annual conference, in Edinburgh. However, BCB president Nazmul Hassan earlier said Bangladesh remains the only country to oppose the proposed system, but SLC officials have now confirmed Sri Lanka was one of two boards opposing the system.
In any case, Sumathipala has spoken strongly against a move from the status quo, in which ten nations enjoy full membership and Test status. Sri Lanka currently sits seventh in Test rankings with 85 points, ahead of West Indies, in ninth position with 65.
“Sri Lanka Cricket has decided not to support two-tier Test cricket as we have decided it’s detrimental to SLC and for its future,” Sumathipala said. “We feel that to make it a top seven – you are virtually relegating the bottom three to a different level.”
What will be the revenue-sharing details within the proposed system? It’s yet to worked out, but there has been some suggestions that all matches within the proposed structure be sold in one block, to strengthen a centralised broadcasting agreement.
Another option suggests the ICC to pay a competition grant, which would cover the costs of every nation’s Test fixtures within the structure. Sumathipala, however, raised doubts on such a financial model.
“We believe that if you are a Full Member, there can’t be two tiers. One of the reasons is to maintain the sustainability of the economy of cricket. If India goes to the eighth position, what happens?”
The proposed two-tier system would provide a stronger context for Test matches, like a merit-based promotion and relegation system, and will also create a clear pathway to Test status for Associate nations.
SLC had supported Bangladesh’s bid to be granted Test status, in 2000, and Sumathipala said that pathway is still open and adequate for any aspiring Test side.
“If someone wants to come up – they can come up, that’s no problem. That’s the way Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and Sri Lanka came up. But that doesn’t mean that anyone should go down. If you want to take the Test level that is a different effort that you must make. We did that for Bangladesh and it’s a very successful story.”