The Proteas are set to become involved in a Test Championship, which will identify the best team in the world over a two-year cycle.
While some details remain to be fleshed out, including the points system and the full Future Tours Programme, the first two-year Test championship, comprising the game’s top-nine teams, will begin after the 2019 World Cup, with the top two teams playing a championship final in 2021.
It will do away with the arbitrary world ranking system that determines the No 1 Test side in the world.
Each country will play in six series over that time, three at home and three away, with all series a minimum of two matches’ duration, but able to be expanded to as many as five to cater for encounters such as the Ashes.
One suggestion is that there would be 100 points on offer for every Test series; 60 would go to the winner of the series – split if it was drawn – and the remaining 40 would be allocated based on the results of the individual matches. In that way, Australia and England could, for instance, continue to play the Ashes over five Tests and other shorter series would still hold the same overall value.
Timing constraints mean countries will not play every other team in the one cycle, but the plan is for the ICC to help ensure that nations are not unfairly placed with regard to their schedule of opponents.
The ICC has also approved an ODI league in principle, featuring the game’s top 13 limited-overs nations, starting in 2020-21, leading into the 2023 World Cup. The 13th place in the ODI league will be taken by the winner of the ICC World Cricket League Championship. Each competing team will play in eight series over that time, each one being played over three matches. It is a system already in place in the women’s game. Extra ODIs can be added to a tour, but they will not count towards the league.
Shashank Manohar, the ICC chairman, said that the league would bring ‘context’ to series around the world.
‘This means fans around the world can enjoy international cricket knowing every game counts, and in the case of the ODI league, that it counts towards qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup.’
The ICC board also approved the trial of four-day Tests in bilateral series up until 2019, following South Africa’s request to play one against Zimbabwe in December. A set of playing conditions for four-day Tests is set to be drawn up by ICC management.
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