Cricket’s ruling body has unveiled plans to boost the popularity of the sport’s five-day format by introducing a Test match league and playoff system. Under the proposals outlined by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on its website, results between Test-playing nations will all count towards a table, with the top four sides going forward into a head-to-head competition to decide the world champion.
Attendances at five-day Test matches have suffered in recent years as the popularity of 20-over cricket has soared, especially in Asia, where the Indian Premier League has attracted several of the world’s top players on lucrative salaries. Following a two-day meeting of its chief executives’ committee, the ICC released a statement outlining proposals to hold a Test playoff every four years, starting in 2013. At present, international sides follow a pattern of playing regular series against each other, with results determining world rankings, but with no trophy to decide an overall champion.
The ICC also outlined plans to create a one-day international league, running between April 2011 and April 2014, with the aim of crowning a league champion. The number of teams competing in the Cricket World Cup, held every four years, could be reduced from 14 to 10 teams from 2015. “Restructuring international cricket is a significant strategic challenge and one that must be dealt with,” said ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat. “Achieving balance and unanimous agreement is not easy but it is a very important piece of work.”