ICC news October 11, 2011

Test Championship could be delayed until 2017


A long-awaited ICC Test Championship is in severe danger of being delayed until at least 2017 because the ICC member nations are not prepared to accept a short-term financial hit to accommodate it.

The championship had been scheduled for 2013 in England, and Test teams around the world had begun plotting their best strategies for claiming a place in the top four that would play-off for the title. Instead, the ICC executive board has now admitted to considering the scheduling of another 50-over Champions Trophy, last played in 2009, because it would bring in more money.

The prospect of a significant cut in the multi-million-dollar broadcast rights fee that would be on the table for another edition of the Champions Trophy has caused the ICC to hesitate about replacing it with the Test playoffs and it now appears likely that the Champions Trophy will be given another edition in 2013. The rights to all ICC events are with ESPN STAR Sports*, who had no comment.

"The ICC Executive Board confirmed their preference to host an ICC Test Championship in 2013 but recognised the significant commercial challenge in trying to replace the Champions Trophy," the board said in a statement. "Without the support and consent of the ICC's broadcast partner, ESPN STAR Sports, the financial implications on the Members and the development of the game would be significant."

Given how much the ICC has stressed the importance of context for Test cricket in recent years, the prospect of an about-turn is difficult to contemplate. "It would be unfortunate if the Test Championship is delayed to 2017 but the board needs to balance several objectives," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said. "We've got existing commitments in terms of our rights agreement, which is a one day format in the Champions Trophy and we need to convert that to a Test format.

"That has got implications for the broadcast partner and the board's challenge is to balance all of its objectives, key of which is the development of the game and the revenue we source from these events go to developing the game, and that's the decision that needs to be made."

Lorgat also conceded that a championship format in which India might miss out on taking part was also a consideration for the executive board.

"Not in the depth you might be thinking, but certainly it is a consideration," he said. "If anyone of the top teams so to speak, in particularly India, are in the top four it does generate a lot more interest from a commercial partners perspective."

The push for greater context in international cricket had started with the players. Paul Marsh, chief executive of the Australian Cricketers Association, said the ICC had to show it valued Test cricket and its potential worth beyond the context of a single rights fee.

"We've been championing the importance of context for a decade or more now and the ICC have recently been championing it also," Marsh told ESPNcricinfo. "Now is not the time to abandon what we think is best for the game, for the sake of a short-term financial gain in a one-off event such as the Champions Trophy.

"I think the ICC need to weigh up what increased value may be delivered to all Test cricket as qualifying matches for the Test championship play-off, that's not just the ICC, what all individual boards my get from increased returns from Test cricket, versus this one-off Champions Trophy."

Marsh also raised the prospect of the ICC facing a similar dilemma even if the event was re-scheduled for 2017, as the financial value of Test cricket would not be helped by the delay.

"If they don't do it in 2013 and push it back to 2017, what's going to change, is it going to be basically the same issue again, that we're going to have a Champions Trophy that's of greater value than a Test Championship playoff? Their planning was the drop the Champions Trophy and replace it with the Test Championship playoff."

*ESPN STAR Sports is a 50:50 joint venture between Walt Disney (ESPN, Inc.), the parent company of ESPNcricinfo, and News Corporation Limited (STAR)

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alex on October 12, 2011, 6:38 GMT

    I would love to blame the bcci for this, but sadly can't, haha. The icc have really performed poorly this time around. Who cares about the champions trophy? don't think I've ever seen a single game. wouldn't it be nice if the top 3 teams just got together and arranged an unofficial tournament.

  • Einstein on October 12, 2011, 6:32 GMT

    BCCI is a big joke.ICC test championsip should be held in 2013 regardless of whether India plays or not. For the first time I actually felt we'll have a great tournament but they scrapped it off. ICC Please Reconsider your decision and we can have a test world cup in place of champions trophy. I really don't care about ODIs anymore. I want tests.

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2011, 4:55 GMT

    i am really worried that all accusations are directed towards BCCI. If the Test championship takes place, and there is some revenue loss , BCCI are not the people to suffer. BCCI has helped Srilankan cricket board, West indies cric board, & Banladesh too. If BCCI says no another time...how these boards will develop cricket in their countries. So stop pointin out BCCI for everyting.

  • Balaji on October 12, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    I think the reporter has unnecessarily dragged india into this. I live in india, middle class indian tv audience, I love to watch ashes, or in fact if england is playing a test series period, they have such wonderful cricketers, love to watch anderson bowl the swingers, or trott/cook play wonderful cover drives all day. If you read the article clearly there is a conflict of interested with tv boardcasters, who run this website too, people you figure it out, stop lashing out on india.

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    If it is not played in 2013 world will miss masters like sachin tendulkar, Rahul dravid and Ricky Ponting

  • Manesh on October 12, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    It is raining in Lords...lets bash BCCI for that...HA HA HA

  • John on October 12, 2011, 2:05 GMT

    I think people need to be a little more realistic here. I will be bitterly disappointed if the WTC gets delayed but there are legitimate considerations to take into account. With regards to the comment about India not qualifying for the WTC, I think that that is more in relation to TV revenue than anything else. India probably contains more people than all the other cricketing nations combined. If you remove the majority of that audience because India aren't participating, the financial viability of the competition takes a big hit. I love test cricket but, let's face it, limited-overs cricket is supporting its existence at the moment. The ICC need to boost interest in test cricket and I'm not convinced that delaying the WTC is the way to do that but, if they don't generate sufficient revenue, test cricket will die anyway.

  • Dennis on October 11, 2011, 22:05 GMT

    No test Champ till 2017 ICC are a joke , Alan Issac is going to be an embarressment to NZ cricket , A puppet for the BCCI .

  • Harvey on October 11, 2011, 21:30 GMT

    The Champions Trophy is an utterly meaningless competition. I would suggest that if the ICC insists on playing that instead of a World Test Championship that fans ought to stay away in protest. However I've no need to do that, since most fans already do! Last time it was played here, I got a half price ticket off E-Bay to watch England v Australia at Edgbaston. The ground was not even a quarter full.

  • Dummy4 on October 11, 2011, 21:04 GMT

    Difficult to hold on to a tradition even as great as Test cricket when the tide is against you. Perhaps best to accept and start embracing the 'new' ... at least no one can take away all the wonderful memories of the 'golden' days.

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