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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sportsscientist on June 28, 2009, 19:41 GMT

    The problem for the ICC is scheduling. Can they devise a system to fit in everyone? or do the ICC adopt a two teir system? or zonal system? it all depends. Whatever they come up with, they need to timetable it so that it can be accomplished within the 4 year cycle of the 50 over CWC. I feel that if it can be arranged for at least a maximum of 2 & a half yrs of the 4 year cycle it can be a winner, as the ashes, world 20twenty, & other tournaments will not be effected.

  • Sportsscientist on June 28, 2009, 19:15 GMT

    LeeroyW has a point. I suppose in a two teir system, NZ would just have to beat everyone & try to gain promotion. In other sports, like football in the UK, teams have to improve & gain promotion by winning their respective leagues. An alternative might be zonal tournament? With zonal champions ending up in a 5 match series decider? This may disadvantage west indies & england (unless Ireland got test status in the future)being so far from the other test nations. The ICC has to look at a way to run this competition on a 4 year cycle. With the 50 over WC signalling each cycles beginning/end, the new cycle could begin playing primarily test cricket for a "test chammpionship" tournament, with shorter tours & less warm up games. Once the competition is over, players could re-coup for the duration & play more 20twenty tournaments (like IPL & SPL), & ODI's to increase earnings, and less tests, apart for 5 match "icon series, like the ashes until the next 50 over CWC.

  • espn78881483 on June 28, 2009, 14:13 GMT

    LeeroyW - couldn't agree with you more. We need a cricket schedule that prevents the New Zealand and Sri Lankan cricket public from getting bored by just playing each other and Bangladesh. My opnion is that we are lumped together because no body else seems to care too much. At least you get to play the Aussies once every four years - home and away.

    Australia haven't played a test in Sri Lanka since 2003, and are not due till 2011. 8 years is too long. Perhaps a return to the future tours programme.

  • Sportsscientist on June 28, 2009, 3:21 GMT

    Some form of "world test champoinship" is the only thing that can save the longer version of the game - and I agree that it must be preserved. a two tier system is better than what we have at present, so the ICC should look at ways to implement it. Iif teams are going to play each other there should be a minimum of 3 tests per series. the is an odd number. why play a 2 test series and draw 1-1? it makes no sense. make tours shorter, with back to back matches, cut down on tour games/ODI's. intorduce a points system also. get the top 2 sides to play a 5 match series. have it run on a cyclical basis, e.g. every 2 years, with the time in between for, icon/non championship series (like the ahses) ODI's, 20twenty, IPL, world cups etc... so revenue can be made and players can get a rest - thus avoiding burn out. also, to help prevent draws, add a reserve day, and penalise dead drawing pitches - HARSHLY!!! if the punishment is firm enough, countries will produce result pitches.

  • SpottedHyena on June 28, 2009, 0:05 GMT

    Love the idea - just one problem - what if England fall back to 7th place - Somehow cricket without the Ashes is not cricket...

  • LeeroyW on June 27, 2009, 6:50 GMT

    Bad idea. I think I speak for most NZ cricket fans when I say that I'm bored of seeing us play Bangladesh, Zim, and Sri Lanka. Sri-Lanka are a good team but NZ have played them at home 3 out of the last 5 home seasons. The top tier I assume would be Australia, S Africa, India and England. There would be interesting games in this tier, but for the second tier, I can't see a lot of interest for the general public. Also, imagine if England or (god forbid) India drop down to the second tier. It would not fly. There'd be all sorts of rule bending and hissy fits if India were relegated. On the positive side, there would be more test cricket. I believe NZ has been unfairly starved of test matches in recent years. We do need ore quality in test arena, but a two tier system is not the way. There's already a have and have not divide amongst the cricket playing nations with "icon series" between two nations being played every other year to maximise tv revenue. Balance the schedule a bit more!

  • BrianCharlesVivek on June 26, 2009, 17:57 GMT

    @ santhoshkudva ,

    when did you last see West Indies playing 5 tests against Australia?? That was way back in 2005.Now if we are unsure of things, simply we shouldnt put up in public then. Now all of them have reduced to 4 or even 3 against Australia.

  • D.V.C. on June 26, 2009, 11:28 GMT

    Yes, there should absolutely be a two-tiered Test Championship. Play it over 4 years (convieninet with a World Cup cycle) and have promotion/relegation at the end. If you also have promotion/relegation for Associate/2nd-teir level then there is a clear path for progression based on merit.

  • Herath-UK on June 26, 2009, 8:54 GMT

    The main demarcation ICC has to make is between popular cricket (money) Vs Good cricket (intergrity of the sport). Similar to 20 cricket Vs Test cricket. You cannot allow the money to dictate the game.As the recent 20 cup showed India made a poor dismal exit notwithstanding the hype they came with.If the tournament was made to run on the popularity,we would not have seen the high class performance that capivated the cricketing world by all other nations.Have a two tier system based on performance for the top 8 teams (four in each) with one team going up and down every two years.ICC should make deals with the TV companies on this basis so that would not stand to lose money whichever team plays in the top tier and no team or fan can grumble then.

  • ruvvy on June 26, 2009, 8:35 GMT

    Differentiating the teams in two tiers is a good idea. But into two different groups is not. Instead, the team in the second tier should get to play only a shortened series (2 test series). Whereas teams in tier 1 get to play a full series (4 - 5 tests) against each other. This will help all teams play each other but at a different level. So the relegated team gets to play the top team on the return, but fewer games. Relegation should be annual and based on total points accumulated (batting + bowling +wins +draws +losses). This would probably encourage teams to squeeze in extra tests (instead of 20/20, ODI) for some additional points :)

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