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ICC set to drop World Test Championship – report

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is set to scrap plans for a World Test Championship (WTC) due to a lack of interest from sponsors and broadcasters, according to UK newspaper the Guardian.

The newspaper said that the championship, which was due to stage its inaugural edition in England in 2017, will be axed at an ICC meeting later this month. Following years of debate, the ICC gave the green light to the Championship last summer. The WTC was to be introduced as a replacement for the Champions Trophy – a 50-over tournament whose final edition took place in England and Wales in June before it was controversially dropped in favour of the new event. The report added that the potential demise of the WTC could lead to a reprieve for the Champions Trophy.

While the One-Day International (ODI) format has had a World Cup since 1975 and the World Twenty20 tournament made its debut in 2007, Test cricket has been played under a different system. The Test Championship mace is currently presented on an annual basis to the team that tops the world rankings on April 1. The WTC was set to provide a four-year window to determine a true No.1 team and offer added incentive to the Test series leading up to the main event itself.

The report said that ICC officials and national governing bodies will now seek to promote Test cricket via the rankings, and are likely to do so by increasing financial incentives. They were increased this time last year so that South Africa received $450,000 (€331,000) for finishing in top spot in April 2013.

The two-Test series between Pakistan and South Africa from October 14-27 marked the start of the qualification pathway to England 2017. Speaking to SportBusiness International in August, ahead of the WTC’s official unveiling, ICC chief executive David Richardson had expressed his hope that the new event would go some way to redressing the commercial balance between Test cricket and the shorter form of the game, with national boards increasingly looking to ODIs and Twenty20 as a means to drive greater revenues.

Richardson had said: “Firstly, the research we’ve done so far certainly suggests that the value of the Test Championship will be equal to that of the Champions Trophy. Secondly, we are hoping that the context of the event will help provide more value for all the bilateral series that go on around it. What has tended to happen in the past is that countries have said we’d rather not play an extra Test and instead add two ODIs because we’ll generate more money that way. Hopefully that won’t necessarily be the only option to take.”