ICC board meeting July 5, 2008

Sutherland pushes for introduction of Test championship

Cricinfo staff

James Sutherland wants steps taken to ensure ODIs remain popular © Getty Images

Cricket Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland has pushed for the introduction of the Test championship after the end of the current Future Tours Program (FTP). In his address to the ICC Members' Forum, he also stressed the need to ensure that the Twenty20 format "complements, and not compromises" international cricket.

"Let's face it, generally speaking, the FTP is currently a hotch-potch of bilateral tour arrangements that, given the current volume of international cricket, produces matches that no longer linger in the memory or have lasting meaning," he said.

Cricket Australia stated that the championship, leading to semi-finals and a final, and a world champion in each four-year cycle, would provide the context which Test cricket currently lacked.

While Twenty20 is proving to be immensely popular and lucrative, Sutherland emphasised the importance of international cricket. "It is not only our foundation, but for all members, possibly with the exception of India, we couldn't survive without it. International cricket is our lifeblood ... we compromise it at our peril.

"To that end, Twenty20 cricket ... whether it is IPL, Champions T20, Pro20, The Big Bash, whatever ... Twenty20 must be designed, structured and promoted so as to complement, not compromise, international cricket."

Sutherland also warned that the introduction of private ownership of teams - like in the IPL - will also provide challenges to international cricket. "Given the significance of IPL and its relationship with the BCCI, it is not unreasonable for us all to expect that IPL will seek to preserve and protect international cricket on behalf of all ICC members."

He also said that international cricket's success depended on all three of its formats being in good shape. "Unfortunately, in my view, there is currently too much talk of ODI cricket as the problem child or the ugly duckling .The financial success of the modern game has been built on ODI cricket," he said. "We owe it to ourselves to ensure that ODI cricket continues to be a popular force in the game."