‘That is a real mental error!’
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced a radical makeover of men’s professional cricket – for the top teams at least.
From July 2019, the top nine Test playing nations will play for a new ICC Test Championship with a home and away series.
The Championship will run over two years, culminating in a World Test final in 2021 which is expected to be played at Lord’s in England.
Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Ireland are the three nations to miss out on the Championship but they will be free to conduct four-day Tests with each other and against the top sides.
The ICC has also confirmed a new ODI competition to run from 2021 which will include all Test playing, ICC member nations and the Cricket League Championship winner.
Each of the sides will play four home and four away series of three ODIs which will double as qualification for the 2023 World Cup.
The ICC is still ironing out the full details for both the Test Championship and the ODI League but it’s clear the cricketing body is keen to make each match count.
“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,” ICC CEO Dave Richardson said.
“This has been delivered and every Test in the new league will be a five-day Test format.”
To further reduce potentially meaningless cricket matches, the ICC will mandate that no ODI series can be played outside the new structure.
It’s not the first time the ICC has tried to implement a proper Test Championship and it’s also tried other ways of spicing up the long format of the game.
In 2005, an ICC Super Series was played between Australia and a Rest of the World team.
The Test was scheduled to run over six days but was over in four and suffered from a disappointing performance from the World side, which was bowled out for under 200 in both innings.
An ICC Test Championship has been running since 2003 but is currently simply based on who is leading the Test rankings in April each year.
2. South Africa
4. New Zealand
6. Sri Lanka
8. West Indies