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Cricket’s developing nations to get shot at Test action

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has signed off on the introduction of a Test Challenge competition which will grant associate members the chance to play Test cricket – the marquee format of the game.

Following the conclusion of an ICC Board meeting in Dubai, the governing body today said the Test Challenge will take place every four years between the lowest ranked Test team and the winner of the Intercontinental Cup competition. The Intercontinental Cup, which takes place over two years, is a first-class tournament played among the associate teams. Ireland is the current champion having defeated Afghanistan in December’s final.

The proposal is that the 10th ranked side on the ICC Test Team Rankings on December 31, 2017, or at the conclusion of any series in progress at that time, will play two five-day matches at home and two five-day matches away against the winner of the upcoming Intercontinental Cup, with the inaugural Challenge scheduled to take place during 2018.

In the next eight years, two Intercontinental Cup tournaments are planned with the first to run from 2015 to 2017 and the second to be held between 2019 and 2021. The second Test Challenge is scheduled for 2022. However, the Test Challenge is not intended to be a relegation mechanism for any full member that may be defeated in the contest.

ICC chief executive David Richardson said: “The ICC Test Challenge now opens the door for associate members to play Test cricket and in doing so gives even greater context to the ICC Intercontinental Cup which will now be a pathway to Test cricket.”

In other news, further to the wide-ranging reforms relating to the governance, competition and financial models of cricket’s global governing body passed in February, the ICC said a “long-term work plan” will support the implementation of those resolutions which do not require constitutional change.

At the same time the ICC Board authorised the drawing up of the necessary constitutional amendments which will be placed before the Full Council at the ICC Annual Conference to be held in Melbourne at the end of June. One of the cornerstones of the new financial model is an extended Future Tours Programme (FTP) which will now run until 2023. The FTP acts to map out the international playing schedule.

Richardson added: “The FTP is a very important piece of work as it gives members long-term certainty in relation to both their playing schedule and financial planning. Significant progress has been made but there is still work to be done to develop a balanced calendar of tours and finalise these agreements.”