The board of the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed today (Friday) that it had approved the launch of a new nine-team Test league and 13-team one-day international (ODI) league in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
The ICC said that the schedules for the tournaments would not be finalised, with the Test series featuring every team playing a total of six series over two years – three at home and three away. Each series will have between two and five Test matches, with all matches being played over five days culminating in a World Test League Championship Final.
The ODI league will serve as a direct qualification competition for the Cricket World Cup and will feature the ICC’s 12 full members and the winners of the World Cricket League Championship. Each team will play four series at home and four series away, with each series comprising three ODIs.
“I would like to congratulate our members on reaching this agreement and putting the interests of the development of the game first,” ICC chairman Shashank Manohar said. “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.”
ICC chief executive David Richardson added: “This is a significant point in time for ICC Members and our collective desire to secure a vibrant future for international bilateral cricket. The approval of both leagues is the conclusion of two years of work from the members who have explored a whole range of options to bring context to every game.”
The ICC board also approved a trial of four-day Test matches to run through until the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.
Richardson said: “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.
“However, throughout the discussions about the future of Test cricket it became clear that whilst context is crucial we must also consider alternatives and trial initiatives that may support the future viability of Test cricket. 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, which, in turn, will help them to hone their skills and close the gap with the top nine ranked teams.”
The ICC board also confirmed at its meeting in Auckland, New Zealand that the Cricket World Cup Qualifier would be held in Zimbabwe in March 2018, with Namibia hosting World Cricket League Division 2 in February 2018 and the Netherlands staging the 2018 Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier.