CHENNAI: THE International Cricket Council (ICC) will discuss the future of Tests and feasibility of a championship in a two-year cycle at its annual conference in Edinburgh from June 27 to July 2. Increasing the importance of bilateral Tests and making them relevant on a wider scale is the idea behind the proposed restructuring.
Satisfied with the growing popularity of T20 and success of the 50-over World Cup, the world body isn’t happy with the response towards Test cricket even in the sub-continent, which generates most of the global revenue. Members apparently think if all Test matches become part of a competition, it will add interest as well as relevance to contests that otherwise concern just two teams. “If we have a championship, where teams play each other home and away in three-match series with the one with maximum points emerging champions after two years and one getting relegated, it would mean there is something at stake. In the present bilateral format, many Tests fail to generate interest even in the host nation,” ICC sources told Express on Sunday.
While it has been learnt that ICC members share the concern over diminishing returns of Test cricket, there is debate over the structure. There are suggestions of having two tiers of seven and five teams with promotion and relegation. Two from the ICC ODI ranking table of 12 teams will get Test status in that case. There are also suggestions to split the 10 Test-playing teams in tiers of six and four. The decision lies with the ICC board of directors, which includes heads of 10 Test-playing member boards with representatives from three associate member nations other than the ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, president Zaheer Abbas and chief executive officer David Richardson.
Sources underplayed reports that claimed the ICC is planning to introduce a new one-day championship with 13 teams. “One-day cricket has a context as in every match counts towards qualification for the World Cup. T20 has been a successful venture in many parts. The focus is primarily on Test cricket, where several bilateral series are not meaningful. That’s why there are talks of having a championship with something to play for in every match. Finishing it in two years will keep interest alive. Suggestions have been tabled. The ICC board takes the final call.”