Nine-nation Test championship

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson.
Associated Press / Saurabh Das

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has unveiled a nine-nation Test championship recently in a bid to preserve the five-day format’s status following the rapid growth of Twenty20.

The Test league was among several reforms agreed at an International Cricket Council board meeting in New Zealand, Auckland, including revamping the One-Day International (ODI) schedule.

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said in a statement, “our priority was to develop (a) structure that gave context and meaning across international cricket and particularly in the Test arena.”

The Test league will start in 2019 and will see nine teams play six series over two years — three home and three away. It will culminate in a final between the two top teams at Lord’s, England.

The ICC has argued for years that a Test championship is needed to boost the format’s popularity as crowds and TV viewers flock to the fast-pace, big-hitting Twenty20 version of the game.

It first appointed a committee to examine the concept back in 1998. But the squabbling over formats and fears that some nations will be disadvantaged, have twice stymied efforts to launch a league structure since 2010, the statement said.

The statement noted that purists view Test cricket as the pinnacle of the sport but it has struggled, particularly in Asia, as lucrative T20 competitions such as the Indian Premier League have caught the public’s imagination.

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