The International Cricket Council is set to start a nine-team Test league and a 13-team ODI league in 2019 and 2020 respectively. This new format, agreed in principle, is aimed at bringing “context and meaning to bilateral cricket,” according to the governing body.
The Test league will see nine teams play six series over two years — three home and three away — with each having a minimum of two Tests and a maximum of five. All matches will be played over five days culminating in a World Test League Championship Final.
The ODI league will be a direct qualification pathway towards the World Cup and will be contested by the 12 full members plus the winners of the current ICC World Cricket League Championship.In the first edition of the league, each side will play four home and four away series each comprising of three ODIs moving to all teams playing each other from the second cycle onwards.
“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,” ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said in a statement after the governing body’s meeting in Auckland.
“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.”
“The ICC Board decision today means we can now go and finalise a playing schedule for the first edition as well as the points system, hosting arrangements and competition terms,” ICC Chief Executive David Richardson added.
The ICC also approved a trial of four-day Tests to run through until the World Cup 2019. Members will be able to schedule four-day games by bilateral agreement and a set of standardised playing conditions will now be finalised.
“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.
“The trial is exactly that, a trial, just in the same way day-night Tests and technology have been trialled by Members. 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,” Richardson said.
Among other decisions taken by ICC during its Board meeting, Namibia have been confirmed as the host of the World Cricket League Division 2 in February 2018 whilst the Netherlands have been approved as the host of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier 2018.
The ICC also said that the Cricket World Cup Qualifier will be held in Zimbabwe in March 2018.