The International Cricket Council (ICC) has approved plans for a Test championship and a one-day international (ODI) league.
In a statement released today, the ICC gave the green-light for a nine-team Test championship and a 13-team ODI league, scheduled to start in 2019 and 2020 respectively. A trail of four-day Tests matches has also been confirmed by the ICC.
New Test championship set for 2019
A Test championship was among the reforms agreed by the ICC board at a meeting in Auckland today. ICC chief David Richardson said in a statement: “Our priority was to develop (a) structure that gave context and meaning across international cricket and particularly in the Test arena”.
According to Cricbuzz, the top nine teams with Test status will play six series – three at home and three away – and it’ll be put in place after the 2019 World Cup. The nine nations that are due to compete in the inaugural championship are Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. The final will be contested between the two top teams in England in June 2021.
New One-day international league to commence in 2020
The ODI league, set to begin in 2020, will consist of 13 teams – the 12 full members of the ICC and the winner of the ICC World Cricket League Championship. Participating teams will battle it out to earn direct qualification for the World Cup. The league will be played in two cycles. During the first, teams will play four series at home and four away, while in the second, all the teams involved will play each other.
“Starting in 2020 and in that two-year period leading up to the Cricket World Cup in 2023, those 13 teams will play eight series. The top eight will qualify automatically for the World Cup,” Richardson explained.
Four-day Test trails
Along with the Test championship and the ODI league, the ICC also approved a trail of four-day Tests matches. “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,” the ICC confirmed. The first four-day Test will be played between South Africa and Zimbabwe on 26 December. It is expected that this trial phase will help Afghanistan and Ireland, who were granted Test status in June, to level-up with other teams.
"A genuine solution"
ICC chairman Shashank Manohar spoke about the new cricketing structure: “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, that it counts towards qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup.”