ICC gives green light to test and ODI leagues
The International Cricket Council has today approved the creation of a test match championship and one-day international league, which are intended to provide more context for bilateral series.
At a meeting in Auckland in New Zealand, the ICC board gave its backing to a first-ever World Test League, which will start in 2019 and involve nine teams playing six series – three at home and three away - over two years, culminating with a Championship Final to determine the top side in the format.
Each series will comprise between two and five tests, but three of the ICC’s 12 full members – Zimbabwe and the new entrants Ireland and Afghanistan – will not be involved in the initial competition.
The board has also cleared its members to experiment with four-day tests (the matches are traditionally scheduled for five) through to 2019 although these will not be included in the test league to start with.
The first four-day test, between South Africa and Zimbabwe, will take place in Port Elizabeth from 26 to 29 December.
The ODI league, starting in 2020, will comprise 13 teams comprising the 12 full members and the winners of the lower-tier ICC World Cricket League Championship.
In the first edition, the participating teams will play four home and four away series over two years each comprising of three ODIs, with subsequent cycles to run for three years with all teams playing each other.
The league will serve as a direct qualification pathway for the ICC Cricket World Cup, beginning with the 2023 edition.
The two round-the-year competitions have been launched to help boost the profile of test and ODI cricket at a time when the short-format Twenty20 game has come to dominate in terms of attendances and TV audiences.
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 to the ICC Cricket World Cup.”
Having been granted test status in June, it was confirmed yesterday that Ireland will host Pakistan in their first match in the format next year.
The fixture will take place on dates and at a venue to be confirmed in May 2018.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has been named as the host of the 2018 World Cup Qualifier, which will help decide the participants for the 2019 competition in England.
The Netherlands will stage the Women's World Twenty20 Qualifier 2018, ahead of next year's main event in the West Indies.