The ICC (International Cricket Council) convened for a Governer’s Body Meeting on Friday, the 13th of October in Auckland. They addressed a rising issue in the cricketing fraternity, the pointlessness of bilateral series. To reinvigorate International cricket, the ICC approved of the Test Championship and ODI League in theory. The experiment to give bilateral series more context will commence after the 2019 World Cup.
The much-awaited Test Championship will commence after the 2019 World Cup. The top 9 teams will compete in this Championship. Each team will play 6 series in the span of two years. Furthermore, they will play 3 series at home and 3 series away. Each series will be at least two tests but can be extended up to 5 tests. Gone will be the days of a glorious home season spanning multiple home series. The top two teams in the Championship will face off in a One-off test match to decide the winner at Lord’s.
The ODI League will be implemented in 2020. 13 teams will participate in the competition. This will include 12 Full Member Nations and 1 Associate nation. The Associate nation chosen will be the winner of the ICC World Cricket League Championship. Each team will play a set of 4 series at home and 4 away with the maximum of 3 matches per series. The ODI League will initially be for a 2-year cycle but will soon shift into a 3-year cycle henceforth.
With the implementation of this League, gone will be the days of 7 match series. In a 7 match series, more often than not, we would see scorelines of 4-1. This usually made the final two games pointless. But with the League system, even a 4-3 scoreline could benefit the team substantially on the points table. This also helps the Neutral fans to support one team or another. This increases revenue substantially.
4 Day Test Matches
The research found that 42% of the tests in the last decade ended before the 5th day. In 5-day tests, a total of 90 overs are bowled per day which amasses to 450 overs in total. If the teams are made to bowl a 100 overs per day, a number of overs lost in a 4-day test would be only 50 overs. If more bowler friendly pitches are used, the 4-day test matches would be more exciting and would almost always produce a result.
The ICC Board approved a trial of four-day Tests matches to run through until the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Members will be able to schedule four-day games by bilateral agreement and a set of standardized playing conditions will now be finalized. The first trial will be conducted by South Africa against Zimbabwe in the Boxing Day Test this year.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson’s Views
“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 decision today means we can now go and finalize a playing schedule for the first edition as well as the points system, hosting arrangements and competition terms.”
“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.”
“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 seems to have taken notice of the massive success of T20 leagues all around the world. With the new changes coming to the structure of International cricket, there is more purpose for neutral fans to watch cricket. Therefore, Cricket matches would have relevance to the fans even if their team is not playing. It also gives meaning to the final game of the series even if the scoreline is 4-0. This is a step in the right direction. The ICC might have to tweak the structure again in the future after observing the results. But this will only be for the betterment of the fans’ cricket watching experience.