Dubai, October 13: The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday announced to start a nine-team Test league and a 13-team ODI league in 2019 and 2020 respectively, with an aim to bring context and meaning to bilateral cricket. However, this step is taken to restore Test cricket as the fans and viewers are losing interest in the format.
Notably, the Test series league will see nine teams play six series over two years – three home and three away this tournament will be held after the 2019 World Cup. The teams will be required to play at least two Tests while it can be expanded to five Tests in a series as well. The Test Championship, however, won't include Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland.
On the other side, the ODI league, which will be held in 2020, will have 13 teams - the 12 Full Members and the winner of the ICC World Cricket League Championship. The teams will battle it out to earn direct qualification for the World Cup.
Interestingly, the ODI league will first have a two-year cycle ahead of the 2023 World Cup. However, it'll be changed to a three-year cycle with teams battling it out in eight series - four at home and four away series - with a maximum of three ODIs in one series.
The ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said, “I would like to congratulate our Members on reaching this agreement and putting the interests of the development of the game first. 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, it counts towards qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup,” he added.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said, “This is a significant point in time for ICC Members and our collective desire to secure a vibrant future for international bilateral cricket. The approval of both leagues is the conclusion of two years of work from the Members who have explored a whole range of options to bring context to every game. “The ICC Board decision today means we can now go and finalize a playing schedule for the first edition as well as the points system, hosting arrangements and competition terms,” he noted.
David Richardson also said, “Our priority was to develop an international cricket structure that gave context and meaning across international cricket and particularly in the Test arena. This has been delivered and every Test in the new League will be a five-day Test format.”
“However 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. The trial is exactly that, a trial, just in the same way day-night Tests and technology have been trialled by Members.” ICC Chief Executive said.
Richardson concluded saying, “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.”
In other decisions take by ICC, Zimbabwe was confirmed as the host for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier and the tournament will be played in March next year. Netherlands will host the ICC Women's World Twenty20 Qualifier. The ICC also confirmed a position for an independent female director and an appointment will be made in a few weeks.
ICC also approved a revised draft of Player Eligibility Regulations which will come into effect in due course. The key changes include: