The future of cricket June 25, 2009

Top ICC official moots two-tier Test structure

Dave Richardson, the ICC's general manager for cricket, has suggested a two-tier structure for Test cricket, based on teams' strength, to make the format more competitive. Such a move, Richardson said, would create a context for Test cricket, one of the challenges for the ICC going forward.

"It's an important point that Test cricket should be played against teams that are at least competitive with each other," Richardson told Cricinfo. "Ideally, you want to have the top teams playing against each other, and then teams of lesser standing playing against each other, maybe in a second division or a lesser competition such as the Intercontinental Cup. I think that's the challenge for the ICC, that it can create some sort of context for Test cricket both at the higher level and at levels below that."

Richardson was reacting to a suggestion by Adam Gilchrist, the former Australia vice-captain, who suggested while delivering the annual Colin Cowdrey lecture at Lord's less Tests of better quality could be the way forward for the longer version.

The ICC has been working over the last year towards lending context and meaning to Test cricket to make it more competitive and attractive for spectators. Last year, officials had discussed the possibility of holding a Test championship where the TV revenue flows into a common pool. But the idea was shot down primarily by India and England, who would end up contributing as bulk of that money. The other significant idea to be discussed is for countries to designate Tests between top cricketing nations as full-fledged five-Test "icon series". India and England have already signed one such agreement.

Any move towards a tier structure would, however, cause concern among the weaker nations, whose revenues stand to be affected most by it.

On Wednesday, the ICC board agreed to a series of measures suggested by its cricket committee to boost Test cricket, including rolling out the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) from October and actively exploring the possibility of holding day/night matches from next year.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo