The prospect of a Test Championship has come a step closer as part of an extensive restructuring of the international game after the ICC's chief executive committee (CEC) laid out a set of proposals for five-day and one-day cricket. Along with the Test Championship, which has been earmarked for some time, they recommended a reduced 50-over World Cup and an enlarged World Twenty20 event.
The proposed format for Test cricket will have the Future Tours Programme (FTP) consist of a Test league running over four years with the top four teams at the end of each period qualifying for a play-off event. The first play-off is scheduled for 2013, the same year England are due to host the Ashes, and Lord's is believed to be the favoured venue for the final.
In a wide-ranging proposal for the redrawing of one-day cricket, a new league - mirroring the existing team rankings - would be introduced, starting in April 2011 and running over four years to culminate in the crowning of the first ODI league champion in April 2014.
The league would run separately from World Cup which, as the ICC's flagship event, the CEC suggests reducing to 10 teams for the 2015 event. The 2011 World Cup, to be held in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, will include 14 countries and run from February 19 to April 2. The lengthy tournament is itself a smaller version than the 2007 event, which was widely criticised for including 16 sides and taking too long.
Given the success of smaller nations like Netherlands and Afghanistan in Twenty20 cricket the CEC recommends expanding the World Twenty20 to include 16 teams from the 2012 tournament, due to be staged in Sri Lanka, with the women's event continuing to run alongside. There should also be a Twenty20 league table as soon as possible, the CEC added.
"Restructuring international cricket is a significant strategic challenge and one that must be dealt with," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said "I am grateful to the CEC and its working group for making such far-reaching proposals to tackle this important issue.
"Achieving balance and unanimous agreement is not easy but it is a very important piece of work that requires a strategic response. The holistic set of proposals, especially introducing more meaningful context, means we now have the potential to follow international cricket that is even more exciting.
"Protecting and promoting all three formats at international level is viable and I believe the CEC has shown itself to be forward thinking in tackling the challenges. I am now encouraged to engage with the ICC executive board to consider these proposals as soon as possible."
During a two-day meeting in Cape Town the CEC also discussed bad light, which is now at the sole discretion of the on-field umpires, and said players should only leave the field if conditions are dangerous and shouldn't go off if floodlights are used even when shadows appear from the artificial light.
"There is a clear instruction to match officials that the players should only go off the field when conditions are considered dangerous or unreasonable," Dave Richardson, ICC's general manager of cricket, said. "In addition, players should not go off the field when the ground floodlights are switched on and these were deemed before the series to be adequate."