ICC news April 10, 2014

Associates to get a shot at Test cricket

ESPNcricinfo staff

Associate teams will have the opportunity to play Test cricket, with the ICC Board approving an ICC Test Challenge, which will take place every four years between the lowest-ranked Test team and the winner of the ICC Intercontinental Cup. The inaugural Test Challenge will take place in 2018, with the intention of giving a context to the Intercontinental Cup.

The Intercontinental Cup, spread out over two years, is a first-class tournament played among the Associate teams. According to the new proposal, the side ranked 10th in the ICC Test rankings on December 31, 2017, or at the conclusion of any series in progress at that time, will play two five-day first-class matches at home and two five-day first-class matches away against the winner of the upcoming Intercontinental Cup.

The next Intercontinental Cup will run from 2015 to 2017, and the next edition from 2019 to 2021. The second ICC Test Challenge is scheduled for 2022. Since the Intercontinental Cup's inception in 2004, Ireland have won it four times, with Afghanistan and Scotland winning one each. The new proposal will give promising teams like Ireland a chance to take their international cricket to the next level.

"The ICC Test Challenge now opens the door for Associate Members to play Test cricket and in doing so gives even greater context to the ICC Intercontinental Cup which will now be a pathway to Test cricket," ICC chief executive David Richardson, said at the end of the two-day board meeting in Dubai.

The Test challenge is not, however, intended to be a relegation process for any Full Member who may be defeated in the contest. Full Member nations will not, it is understood, lose their status and voting rights and their FTP arrangements are also expected to be completed. The Board has agreed to set in place the Test challenge and its structure, format and principles will be passed through following at the ICC's annual conference.

During the previous ICC Board meeting in February 8, the Board had gained the necessary votes to approve a large number of sweeping changes relating to the governance, financing and structure of international cricket. One of the cornerstones of the new financial model is an extended Future Tours Programme (FTP) which will now run until 2023, and while it may still be monitored by the ICC, it is expected to comprise bilateral memorandum of understandings that are binding.

"The FTP is a very important piece of work as it gives Members long-term certainty in relation to both their playing schedule and financial planning," Richardson said. "Significant progress has been made but there is still work to be done to develop a balanced calendar of tours and finalise these agreements."

The ICC Board also authorised the drawing up of the necessary constitutional amendments which will be placed before the Full Council at the ICC Annual Conference to be held in Melbourne at the end of June. These amendments refer to the creation of a new commercial arm of the ICC as well as the changes in the administrative structures, pertaining to the chairmanship and the creation of a new all-powerful panel called the Executive Committee.

In other developments, the ICC has agreed to retain the format of the World T20 for the next edition, to be held in India in 2016. For the next tournament, the top eight Full Members on the ICC T20I rankings, as on April 30 2014, will automatically qualify for the second round, while the ninth and 10th ranked Full Members will get automatic places in the first (qualifying) round. Six qualifiers will progress from the 14-team ICC World T20 Qualifier in 2015, which will be staged in Ireland and Scotland from July 9 to August 2 2015.

Changes to the ICC's cricket committee were approved also, with the Australia coach Darren Lehmann and the West Indies coach Ottis Gibson ratified as new members of the committee, representing the views of international coaches. They will share the duties left vacant by Gary Kirsten when he resigned as coach of South Africa.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bryan on April 16, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    Glad it finally gives a pathway but really is lacking in a few ways. Even if an associate makes it to test status, how are they going to organise matches in that short time when most nations are going to have their calendars set? The big question now though is how do they achieve full member status?

    I do fear that the games are going to be bargaining chips and some nations are going to be on the outer. I would have suggested that to win The Test challenge and the money, the nation needs to have played a series against every other nation home and away in the last four years. It at least gives some sort of incentive to play the smaller nations at least occasionally.

    Also annoyed that the rankings are limited to 'full members' and qualifying. I think it would help BOTH full members and associates improve their play and scheduling.

    I know I am dreaming though. Common sense is not so common.

  • Reza on April 14, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    Can we have the rating to be initialized as of now to make it a fair event? Some of the teams are still up in the ranking because of their previous records which does not count anything now. If we are initiating a new structure, why cant we initialize the rating points too?

  • dan on April 14, 2014, 11:57 GMT

    i would love to see the top teams play the lesser nations, including australia.

    i think its great australia are touring zimbabwe but i dont understand why thier not playing test.

    the icc needs to develop a team of the decade where every team can play each team even the lesser nations.

    you would design the draw so the top teams play the top teams most, the middle teams play the middle teams the most and the lesser teams play the lesser teams most.

    the draw would look like this

    australia play south africa,india,england,pakistan and sri lanka 3 times in 10 years in a 4-5 test series

    australia play new zealand,west indies, bangladesh and zimbabwe 2 times in 10 years in 3 test series

    australia play kenya,namibia,netherland,ireland, uae, nepal and afghanistan 1 time in 10 year in a 2 test series( big deal if they get flogged)

    new zealand play australia, south africa,england,india pakistan, sri lanka 2 times in 10 years

    new zealand play west indies,bangladesh and zimbabwe 3 times

  • dan on April 14, 2014, 11:46 GMT

    if you look at rugby union world cups thier are 5-10 power houses, australia, new zealand, south africa, england, ireland, wales, scotland and france.

    you have teams that improve every world cup and compete like fiji,tonga,samoa, argentina, italy

    and teams like russia,romania, geogia which improve all the time.

    in some world cups thier might be a 50 point win to some sides ie, australia 70points vs russia 20 points and no one complains about the result.

    in recent years australia has qualified for soccer world cups, this world cup australia play the netherlands and chile, if australia competes and does thier best australia soccer fans would be stoked with the result, but the reality is australia will struggle.

    australian soccer fans dont care when playing brasil if australia get beaten 5-0.

    the thing you can learn from soccer and rugby is if you throw teams in the deep end they learn to swim.

    who cares about the result, if a team gets flogged big deal. as long as they improve

  • Dummy4 on April 14, 2014, 10:47 GMT

    It's my pleasure to hear that the ICC is going to give this opportunity to the Associates so let me know that will be there any chances for Afghanistan Cricket Team or so?

  • Mohammad Khan on April 14, 2014, 8:46 GMT

    Good news for Associates it is really good to hear and will achieve more improvements in next few years and will get more and more popularity in the side, hope to have good Chance for all associates especially for Afghanistan and Ireland.

  • Selim on April 13, 2014, 20:11 GMT

    It is a good opportunity for the associates to play against the lowest ranked test team however this doesn't happen until 2018 which is a bit too long 2016 would be better though. The ICC needs to expand cricket across other countries so that more teams can participate and hopefully develop in the long term also makes cricket far more interesting instead of seeing the same teams over and over.

  • Damian on April 13, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    Clearly it is not a test status, just 2x two five-day first-class matches.This will kill off Ireland same as they killed Kenya. Once you do not respect the current performance and the popularity then the next generation will not have any interest about this game in that country, they find other games that rewards well. Who wants to follow a game that will give you only four five-day first-class games?

    Why wait until 2018? Ireland is current cup holder, so give them 8 games to play with Ban & Zim.

    Ireland is deserved to have full test status now and Afghanistan in 2020.

    It would be good to see Ireland and Afghanistan play more regularly with Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and even with 2nd XI teams of WI, NZ. This will also give Zimbabwe and Bangladesh a good mental boost.

  • Rehman on April 13, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    It is still not good enough for associate countries to come up at the level of full member countries.

  • Quichang on April 13, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    Well 2018 is a very long time frame..Why not involve this team to play with the Best Domestic Team of every Test playing Nation....Guess what !!! ICC is soo.... 2014 and back in such Ideas. why not start from now on wards.... and ICC having a very far Interest in Exploring Cricket in other nation like China,Malaysia,Indonesia, Japan,Thailand,Europe countries, American continents and African Continent is really a bitter Melancholy in Greater Cricket to the whole world. I really have a fantasy seeing China,Mexico,Spain,Germany etc..playing in T20 Cricket...and Mongolia winning it by beating Egypt...Surely a fantasy things..ha ha...