ICC un­veils long-awaited Test cham­pi­onship

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - SPORT -

WELLING­TON: The In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil un­veiled a long-awaited, ni­ne­na­tion Test cham­pi­onship Fri­day in a bid to pre­serve the five-day for­mat's sta­tus fol­low­ing the rapid growth of Twenty20.

The Test league was among a raft of re­forms agreed at an ICC board meet­ing in Auck­land, in­clud­ing re­vamp­ing the one­day in­ter­na­tional sched­ule and tri­alling four-day Tests.

"Our pri­or­ity was to de­velop (a) struc­ture that gave con­text and mean­ing across in­ter­na­tional cricket and par­tic­u­larly in the Test arena," ICC chief David Richard­son said in a state­ment.

The Test league will start in 2019 and 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.

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-paced, big-hit­ting Twenty20 ver­sion of the game.

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

"Bring­ing con­text to bi­lat­eral cricket is not a new chal­lenge, but this is the first time a gen­uine so­lu­tion has been agreed on," ICC chair­man Shashank Manohar said.

The nine na­tions in the com­pe­ti­tion are Aus­tralia, Bangladesh, Eng­land, In­dia, New Zealand, Pak­istan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and West Indies. - AFP

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