A new Test league, which will span a four-year period, looks set to begin in 2019.
According to ESPNCricinfo, the league will feature the top nine Test nations, each playing 12 Test series from the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup up until the start of the 2023 edition.
The restructure will also see a reduction in the number of Test series a team may play in a four-year period, a reduction from 16 to 12 taking place. Each participating nation may play a maximum of six series on home soil and six away from home. For points to be awarded during a bilateral Test series, a minimum of two Tests must be played.
At the conclusion of the four-year cycle, the top two ranked teams will clash in what will be effectively regarded as a final.
The new Test league is an effort by the ICC to give Test cricket more relevance and excitement at a time when T20 cricket is fast becoming a fan favourite.
Despite recently achieving Test status, neither Afghanistan nor Ireland will participate in the league, though they will take their places in a 13-team ODI league.
The ODI league will feature 13 teams, thus accommodating Afghanistan, Ireland, and Zimbabwe, and span a two-year period beginning in 2020.
The ICC will try and structure the itinerary in such a way that the league is made ‘as fair as possible.’ Points will only be awarded for the first three matches of any given bilateral series, with no points being gained or lost for any further matches played in the series.
A possible hiccup in the schedule may arise, however, given India’s refusal to play a bilateral series against Pakistan, though the ICC is yet to comment on how this may be resolved.
The possibility of new-look Test and ODI leagues will be discussed further at the ICC meetings in October.