Many within the sport rued the lack of context with regard to bi-lateral series and now the ICC has listened. At the governing body’s meeting in Auckland, a Test Championship and an ODI league have been approved, in-principle, on the final day.
The first two-year Test championship to be played among the game’s top-nine teams will start after the 2019 World Cup in England. The top two teams by April 2021 will move to a playoff in a championship final in England in June of that year. Meanwhile, all the details are yet to be revealed including the points system and full Future Tours Programme (FTP).
All the teams will play in six series during that period – three at home and three away. Each series will be a minimum of two matches and can be expanded to as many as five to cater to encounters such as the Ashes.
The ODI league will be played out between the top 13 ranked teams and start in 2020-21. It will run for two years leading into the 2023 World Cup before transforming into a three-year league beyond that. During that time period, each competing team will play in eight series with each one being played over three matches.
ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said this isn’t the first time that addressing concern over bilateral cricket was done but it was the first time that action was taken. “I would like to congratulate our Members on reaching this agreement and putting the interests of the development of the game first. 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.”
“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,” said ICC Chief Executive David Richardson.
“The ICC Board decision today means we can now go and finalise a playing schedule for the first edition as well as the points system, hosting arrangements and competition terms,” he added.