William Porterfield March 7, 2014

'Test status will be massive for cricket in Ireland'

William Porterfield talks leadership, his first match for his country, and the super power he wants
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Think back to September 3, 2013. A century, while captain of Ireland, against England. How good was that?
It was a pretty special moment. To score a century for your country always is, but at the end of the day we lost. It takes a bit away from scoring a few runs when it's not in a winning cause.

Was it made more special because it was against England?
It's always nice for any Irishman to do well when they come up against England in any sport, but they are the closest team to us and a Full Member nation too.

What is it like to captain your country?
A massive honour. To walk out leading Ireland is something I dreamed about. I had a taste of captaining Ireland's junior sides from a young age and just wanted it more and more.

How much would Test cricket mean to Ireland?
It would be massive for the country and for cricket in Ireland. It would show how far we've come, but it's still a work in progress. I know it's not going to happen overnight but we've come a long way.

Will it happen in your career?
I hope so. The board have put a plan in place and a strategy to become a Test-playing nation by 2020. I'd like to think I'll still be around then.

There have been a load of great days in your career, but what has been best?
The 2011 win in the World Cup over England in Bangalore is up there. The 2007 World Cup was magnificent too: the tie with Zimbabwe and then the win over Pakistan that got us through. There are so many.

If you had to pick one?
I'll go with the win over Pakistan, as it meant we qualified for the Super Eights that year.

Who is the hardest man in county cricket?
I played with Steve Kirby and he was a fiery character on the pitch. Off it, he was a big softie.

Who is the greatest Irish sportsman or woman that has ever lived?
George Best.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
To turn back time.

Which of your Ireland team-mates can down a pint of Guinness the quickest?
I'll go with Paul Stirling.

Your team-mate Niall O'Brien told ESPNcricinfo he was a good sledger. What do you make of that?
I stand out of his way so I don't have to hear him! I've never heard it when we've played Northamptonshire as I haven't batted for long enough.

Who is the most laidback player in your team?
Kevin O'Brien is right up there.

Who's the easiest to captain?
Paul Stirling. He doesn't get upset about too much. He just goes out there to see the ball and smash it.

What is the last film you have seen?
I'm not a film man myself. I think it was Borat. How old is that?

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Little_Aussie_Battler on March 12, 2014, 0:42 GMT

    Ireland can become a test match nation with the new qualification rules. They will need to beat Bangladesh in a four match test match play off, both home and away.

    If they will that series they get into the test match group and Bangladesh drop down to associate level(on full pay benefits).

  • on March 10, 2014, 16:17 GMT

    Ireland must be given test status.they deserve it

  • on March 10, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    Cricket Ireland deserves test status

  • inswing on March 10, 2014, 2:44 GMT

    Ireland and Scotland should join forces to create one team. That team would have a much better chance of winning the test status and maintaining a decent level of performance. Just like small countries in WI put up a combined team.

  • Cpt.Meanster on March 9, 2014, 22:02 GMT

    @Moppa: Look at what you are saying. So you telling me that Ireland and Afghanistan will 'dilute' test cricket ? As if the format isn't diluted already with poor attendance around the world, back to back Ashes contests every other week etc. If anything, your beloved test cricket will only grow and expand by adding in more countries. If they lose by an innings, so be it. Every team started out like that. What about the good old history of cricket when ONLY England and Australia played each other. Did that dilute your test cricket ? All these are poor excuses to keep away Ireland and Afghanistan. I am sure neither Ireland or Afghanistan would lose badly as Australia did in India (4-0) or as England did in Australia (5-0). Give them a chance !

  • Rakesh_Sharma on March 9, 2014, 16:48 GMT

    Ireland must be given Test status immediately. Their performance is definitely better than Bangladesh. Infact Bangladesh was much worse than top 3 other associates as far as quality of team was concerned. Despite gaining experience for 10-12 years Bangladesh nothing much has happenned. When Bangladesh was granted Test status Kenya was anytime 2 times better than Bangladesh, If just one win and one ICC qualification was a benchmark for qualifying for Test than Kenya was much better in 1996 when they beat West Indies. Ireland is much better than what Bangladesh was at the time of Test status infact for last 5 years. Even the latest ODI series against PAkistan in Ireland was very competitive and much more than what Bangladesh can imagine despite it being a Test team with vast test experience. Why than? why Ireland is not given Test. It will be a welcome new ground for cricket expansion rather than perception and being confined to just Indian sub continent.

  • izzidole on March 9, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    Ireland deserves to be given test status . They have proved several times that they are good enough to compete with other teams on an even keel and have done very well against teams that are believed to be superior to them with test status. In recent times they have lost some outstanding cricketers like Eoin Morgan and Rankin to England and a few others believed to be in England's hit list. They also have an exciting batsman in Kevin O'Brien who hammered the English bowling in the world cup in India a few years ago to snatch victory. Initially Ireland should be given the opportunity to compete in limited overs cricket in T20 and ODI's which would give them enough encouragement to qualify for test cricket.

  • on March 9, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    @Moppa, why do they have to be better than Zimbabwe or Bangladesh to be granted test status? Surely that they can be competitive is enough. Even full ODI status would be a nice start! I don't think anyone will be expecting either of these sides to head off on a 5 test tour to Aus or SA as their first assault on test match cricket? Surely a few one off's against near neighbours and lower ranked teams would suffice for that. By the way Rankin did make the England team but I reckon he'd have been far more comfortable with a green trim on his kit and there is little doubt as to how talented Morgan is and for mine Dockrell would become a world class spinner if given the exposure to test cricket. There is plenty there to work with and if they hosted Bangladesh or Zimbabwe they'd be every chance of a win.

  • on March 9, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    The ICC had better get their skates on grant Ireland full member status, before England steal anymore of their best talent! simple as that.

  • gibbons on March 9, 2014, 5:43 GMT

    The question for Ireland or the Afghans is not just what can they do now, but what could they be with proper infrastructure. Every side who currently has it has been 'granted' Test or ODI status at one stage or another, some of them have thrived (e.g. SL), others struggled (think Kenya from 2003 to now). I really hope that both those sides, as well as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, can build and thrive. It'll be better for cricket.

  • Little_Aussie_Battler on March 12, 2014, 0:42 GMT

    Ireland can become a test match nation with the new qualification rules. They will need to beat Bangladesh in a four match test match play off, both home and away.

    If they will that series they get into the test match group and Bangladesh drop down to associate level(on full pay benefits).

  • on March 10, 2014, 16:17 GMT

    Ireland must be given test status.they deserve it

  • on March 10, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    Cricket Ireland deserves test status

  • inswing on March 10, 2014, 2:44 GMT

    Ireland and Scotland should join forces to create one team. That team would have a much better chance of winning the test status and maintaining a decent level of performance. Just like small countries in WI put up a combined team.

  • Cpt.Meanster on March 9, 2014, 22:02 GMT

    @Moppa: Look at what you are saying. So you telling me that Ireland and Afghanistan will 'dilute' test cricket ? As if the format isn't diluted already with poor attendance around the world, back to back Ashes contests every other week etc. If anything, your beloved test cricket will only grow and expand by adding in more countries. If they lose by an innings, so be it. Every team started out like that. What about the good old history of cricket when ONLY England and Australia played each other. Did that dilute your test cricket ? All these are poor excuses to keep away Ireland and Afghanistan. I am sure neither Ireland or Afghanistan would lose badly as Australia did in India (4-0) or as England did in Australia (5-0). Give them a chance !

  • Rakesh_Sharma on March 9, 2014, 16:48 GMT

    Ireland must be given Test status immediately. Their performance is definitely better than Bangladesh. Infact Bangladesh was much worse than top 3 other associates as far as quality of team was concerned. Despite gaining experience for 10-12 years Bangladesh nothing much has happenned. When Bangladesh was granted Test status Kenya was anytime 2 times better than Bangladesh, If just one win and one ICC qualification was a benchmark for qualifying for Test than Kenya was much better in 1996 when they beat West Indies. Ireland is much better than what Bangladesh was at the time of Test status infact for last 5 years. Even the latest ODI series against PAkistan in Ireland was very competitive and much more than what Bangladesh can imagine despite it being a Test team with vast test experience. Why than? why Ireland is not given Test. It will be a welcome new ground for cricket expansion rather than perception and being confined to just Indian sub continent.

  • izzidole on March 9, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    Ireland deserves to be given test status . They have proved several times that they are good enough to compete with other teams on an even keel and have done very well against teams that are believed to be superior to them with test status. In recent times they have lost some outstanding cricketers like Eoin Morgan and Rankin to England and a few others believed to be in England's hit list. They also have an exciting batsman in Kevin O'Brien who hammered the English bowling in the world cup in India a few years ago to snatch victory. Initially Ireland should be given the opportunity to compete in limited overs cricket in T20 and ODI's which would give them enough encouragement to qualify for test cricket.

  • on March 9, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    @Moppa, why do they have to be better than Zimbabwe or Bangladesh to be granted test status? Surely that they can be competitive is enough. Even full ODI status would be a nice start! I don't think anyone will be expecting either of these sides to head off on a 5 test tour to Aus or SA as their first assault on test match cricket? Surely a few one off's against near neighbours and lower ranked teams would suffice for that. By the way Rankin did make the England team but I reckon he'd have been far more comfortable with a green trim on his kit and there is little doubt as to how talented Morgan is and for mine Dockrell would become a world class spinner if given the exposure to test cricket. There is plenty there to work with and if they hosted Bangladesh or Zimbabwe they'd be every chance of a win.

  • on March 9, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    The ICC had better get their skates on grant Ireland full member status, before England steal anymore of their best talent! simple as that.

  • gibbons on March 9, 2014, 5:43 GMT

    The question for Ireland or the Afghans is not just what can they do now, but what could they be with proper infrastructure. Every side who currently has it has been 'granted' Test or ODI status at one stage or another, some of them have thrived (e.g. SL), others struggled (think Kenya from 2003 to now). I really hope that both those sides, as well as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, can build and thrive. It'll be better for cricket.

  • Moppa on March 9, 2014, 2:06 GMT

    Some strange arguments here. Firstly, the jury is out as to whether Afghanistan and Ireland and genuinely better ODI teams than Bang and Zim. Ireland's record against those two in ODIs is 3 wins, 7 losses and a tie. Afghanistan beat Bangladesh in their only meeting, but hard to extrapolate from this. Secondly, even if Afg and Ire are competitive in ODIs, this doesn't mean they will be competitive in Tests. It is far harder to compete over 5 days than 1. E.g. Bang have won 18 of 143 ODIs against Test playing nations excluding Zim since 2000 (12.5%). In the same period, they've won 2 of 61 Tests (ex Zim), or 3% of games (5 draws). Clearly they can 'jag' an ODI here or there but it's hard to jag a Test match. Lastly, e.g. @Elgin Cricketer, consider that neither Rankin nor Morgan were good enough to make the English XI that got pummelled in Australia. Imagine what Australia or SA would do to Ireland! Frankly, these teams would be lucky to not lose by an innings => dilution of Test cricket

  • Jonah58 on March 8, 2014, 22:27 GMT

    Its interesting to read the comments from England fans explaining why allowing Ireland or Afghanistan to play tests would somehow devalue the game given how abject their teams performance was in Australia over the winter. Or Zimbabwe with their oft-times inability to get a team on the park. India who inexplicably have lost the ability to win a game away from home again, and the WI who seem to be in constant disarray with interminable conflict between players and their board. The only thing devaluing cricket is the notion that it is a closed little club that refuses to grow and to encourage new nations to play the game and therefore it will soon become a minority sport played by a self appointed elite of 3 or 4 nations after all the smaller teams have been driven out of existence by greed and apathy

  • on March 8, 2014, 21:48 GMT

    Two or three year temporary test status for country like Ireland. Its too early for Afghanistan to get test status. They should show some more maturity. ICC should consider this point to have a check.

  • funkyandy on March 8, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    My captain!! A great leader and the best backward point in the game!

  • on March 8, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    ICC should expand the number of test members and add both Afghanistan and Ireland in it. Cricket is boring with having both entertaining teams n lower divisions

  • on March 8, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    Forget test status, these teams aren't even given a fair chance to play in the T20s. The upcoming t20 World Cup format is mind-boggling.

  • on March 8, 2014, 17:56 GMT

    What is this talk of diluting quality of cricket ? Have you guys watched Ire n Afg matches? Have they lost any games that badly? Not he other hand, witness some of recent series between so called bonafide Test teams. Eng were just humiliated in Aus, barely winning anything at all. India's ODIs in both SA and NZ were all total one-sided affairs, barring one. WI looked like a third division team in their test matches in India.

    To be honest, both Afg and Ire have been quite competitive in almost every game they got against the test teams. I don't understand why the fans of this game are so hell-bent on restricting the game to certain teams.

  • on March 8, 2014, 15:41 GMT

    Ireland just need more time, in 2007 Cricket Ireland's governing body consisted of two members of staff with very few international matches and almost no professional players. The likes of Morgan grew up wanting to play for England because it was the only way to get to the top level and be paid. Since then things have improved beyond what anyone could have predicted but not to the point of giving them full test status.

    The Irish domestic competition needs to achieve first class status so they have a bedrock of players getting a good level of long format cricket. Its easy to make comparisons with Bangladesh but looking at their test results has test status really helped them? They have a great culture of losing now

  • Robster1 on March 8, 2014, 15:25 GMT

    Of course Ireland should already have test status, but the BCCI won't allow it as it'd dilute their power base. The sooner that there's a proper (and fair) two division test championship the better as a side benefit to this would be Ireland's overdue promotion to test level.

  • on March 8, 2014, 14:25 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, I agree it needs to be two tiered, even three tiered, but only unofficially. I don't want to see a situation where matches such as SA V Zim, Aus V NZ, Eng V Ire or Pak V Afg are not able to be played because of rankings. These are the kinds of local derby's that the smaller nations thrive on and cricket needs these countries playing test cricket, I reckon. I want to see the George Dockrell's of the world bowling at the KP's and the Shapoor Zadrans bowling at the Umar Akmals, it adds so much flavour to the pot. It's nice to now know that the process is there where they can make it to the top flight and I actually think that it's going to be quite a tussle between Ireland and the Afghans to make it into the play off against the no.10 team, that alone will be interesting to follow and the play off itself could get very interesting indeed!

  • AltafPatel on March 8, 2014, 12:20 GMT

    Ireland, Afghanistan they all deserve at-least participation triangular or more tournaments spanning their experience against major teams and making way for test format. Look at Srilanka, Bangladesh how benefits they got for playing major tournaments.

  • on March 8, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    Won't they be given lower tier test status as part of the new Big Three anyway? Personally I think Ireland could bring a lot to the table, maybe some worldwide appeal with pockets of Irish heritage all over the planet for the ICC to ponder. If they were given test status - I would prefer to see some of the Irish born England players, Morgan Rankin Joyce etc, the option to play for Ireland and skip past any red tape, and not be disqualified as they have already played Internationals for England.

  • on March 8, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    How come cricket is the only sports which is shrinking.Even after 140 years of Test Cricket we only have 10 Test playing nations. Look at football world cup (Playing world cup is far greater honor than playing Test cricket) In every football wold cup we see a new Team and some times even good teams dont make it. I remember Holland and England not making it to world cup football as recently as last 10-15 years.Teams like Cameroon,Nigeria, Kuwait make it to world cup. In cricket only money talks, if that was so in Football Saudi Arabia and UAE would have been present world cup.Cricket is now run like a shop not as sports.

    In Cricket Zimbawe had produced good cricketer,Bangladesh purely on quantity and not quality got into test cricket. Ireland which hardly plays cricket and Afghanistan which is at state of war since 1979 still produces good cricketers. About time we have a dozen test teams including Ireland and Afghanistan.

  • Nutcutlet on March 8, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    With the distinct possibility that Ireland and Afghanistan will become Test playing nations (the latter unlikely to play at home) then it will become an imperative to have two tiers of TC as recently mooted. I am already concerned with the standard of TC being diluted with the likes of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe playing the premier form of the game. (And this is no reflection on the gutsy, un/ underpaid cricketers of Zim). I'd have England, Australian, South African Pakistani & Indian 'A' sides playing the minor nations. You shouldn't use a sledge-hammer to crack a walnut - there's nothing left!

  • BradmanBestEver on March 8, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    On the face of it, it would be good for the development of the game if Ireland and other countries are given test status.

    However, we do not want to dilute the cricketing quality any more and we do not want any more game son the already-too-busy international schedule - because this would not be good for the development of the game.

    A sensible solution to the granting of test status to Ireland and other countries is to have a tiered system - much like the English premier league - with promotions and relegations. I am already only marginally interested when Australia plays Bangladesh or Zimbabwe - recall that Jason Gillespie scored a double ton against Bangladesh - because those matches are almost always not a good contest

  • mihir_nam on March 8, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    Correct Anoopshameed , its such a shame that with more than 200years of Cricketing tradition in England , It cannot produce more test teams in Europe and worst is they are poaching players from upcoming teams also dependent on expats mostly south african. Whereas Ireland is ready and should play Ban Zim WI first two year...No country was dominating in early stages of Test Cricket admission .If Even today if Ban or Zim plays RSA or AUS it will be 3day affair . so bottom test teams should regularly play among themselves and one off Test against top teams

  • Nutcutlet on March 8, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    @Posted by anoopshameed: if you had any grasp of history, let alone cricket's history, then you wouldn't write what you have. The thought of 'Subcontinent countries' (sic) sticking together is laughable. B'desh is ICC lobby-fodder for the BCCI; that's why B'desh is there! SL was always going to be a Test-playing country as the MCC had monitored the progress through 23 tours in 90 years during the C20. Ergo, the country that did most nurturing of SL to Test status was England. And Pakistan & India have differences that are so deep that Test matches only happens one in a blue moon. Sticking together? And of course England is the only country in Europe that plays Test cricket - because for good or ill, there were no British colonies of sufficient size in Europe to sustain the growth of fc cricket. You'll have noticed that fc/Test cricket is played only in ex-British colonies, for the simple reason that cricket originated in S England in the early C16. Great sporting export, eh?

  • on March 8, 2014, 8:19 GMT

    Afghanistan and Ireland both dominate Zimbabwe and Bangladesh every odi and t20 they play, plus Afghanistan and Ireland r always the 2 top teams in qualifying tournaments. if they dont get test status by the end of 2015, then I will knw that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe r paying to stay as a test nation

  • on March 8, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    Ireland is a v gd team n I hop countries lik dm shud b given test status sn n thy shud play small countries regularly lik Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe. ..n all ds countries gt at least 1 test from each big test playing countries every 6 months..I guarantee u dt v wil c sn cricket spreading ol ova countries lik football. .

  • on March 8, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    IRELAND has all kind of spart in them.. they can prove to be good TEST team and can immediate start beating Bangladesh and zimbabwe...

  • on March 8, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    As someone who has lived in Ireland for over 4 years, it pains me to see that Ireland does not get to play as much cricket as they deserve to. People are right in asking for a test status for Ireland (they are a pretty good team), but the fact is that the weather in Ireland does not permit much action for a test match. So Ireland might have to play like Pakistan i.e. play "home" games at a neutral venue.

  • mgsl on March 8, 2014, 6:19 GMT

    ireland is better than bangladesh. no doubt. if they get more opportunity to play against full members.they beat everyone. they have talented players.

  • Phil722 on March 8, 2014, 6:19 GMT

    Would be great to have Ireland and Afghanistan be given test status. Surely the top eight nations could find room for 2 tests a year each against teams ranked 9-12. Giving the lower teams 4 tests each(against top 8 opposition) and more amongst each other? At the very least some more ODI and T20 tours would be great. Would love to see Ireland/Afghanistan over here in New Zealand.

  • anoopshameed on March 8, 2014, 6:00 GMT

    Though Ireland is more deserving, I think Afghanistan will get Test status first (may be even Nepal!) because the Indian Subcontinent countries do stick together and help out their neighbors. England on the other hand just poaches players from where ever they can! The last country England helped attain Test status was India and by extension Pakistan. Since then 2 more countries have attained Test status from the subcontinent where as England is still the only country from Europe that plays Test Cricket!-even Africa and Australia (Continents) has two countries each with Test status. England were always pirates and still they remain so!

  • OttawaRocks on March 8, 2014, 4:54 GMT

    Ireland deserves test status. After having players poached by England, it would be nice to see how Ireland plays with a full team all their own.

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  • OttawaRocks on March 8, 2014, 4:54 GMT

    Ireland deserves test status. After having players poached by England, it would be nice to see how Ireland plays with a full team all their own.

  • anoopshameed on March 8, 2014, 6:00 GMT

    Though Ireland is more deserving, I think Afghanistan will get Test status first (may be even Nepal!) because the Indian Subcontinent countries do stick together and help out their neighbors. England on the other hand just poaches players from where ever they can! The last country England helped attain Test status was India and by extension Pakistan. Since then 2 more countries have attained Test status from the subcontinent where as England is still the only country from Europe that plays Test Cricket!-even Africa and Australia (Continents) has two countries each with Test status. England were always pirates and still they remain so!

  • Phil722 on March 8, 2014, 6:19 GMT

    Would be great to have Ireland and Afghanistan be given test status. Surely the top eight nations could find room for 2 tests a year each against teams ranked 9-12. Giving the lower teams 4 tests each(against top 8 opposition) and more amongst each other? At the very least some more ODI and T20 tours would be great. Would love to see Ireland/Afghanistan over here in New Zealand.

  • mgsl on March 8, 2014, 6:19 GMT

    ireland is better than bangladesh. no doubt. if they get more opportunity to play against full members.they beat everyone. they have talented players.

  • on March 8, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    As someone who has lived in Ireland for over 4 years, it pains me to see that Ireland does not get to play as much cricket as they deserve to. People are right in asking for a test status for Ireland (they are a pretty good team), but the fact is that the weather in Ireland does not permit much action for a test match. So Ireland might have to play like Pakistan i.e. play "home" games at a neutral venue.

  • on March 8, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    IRELAND has all kind of spart in them.. they can prove to be good TEST team and can immediate start beating Bangladesh and zimbabwe...

  • on March 8, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    Ireland is a v gd team n I hop countries lik dm shud b given test status sn n thy shud play small countries regularly lik Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe. ..n all ds countries gt at least 1 test from each big test playing countries every 6 months..I guarantee u dt v wil c sn cricket spreading ol ova countries lik football. .

  • on March 8, 2014, 8:19 GMT

    Afghanistan and Ireland both dominate Zimbabwe and Bangladesh every odi and t20 they play, plus Afghanistan and Ireland r always the 2 top teams in qualifying tournaments. if they dont get test status by the end of 2015, then I will knw that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe r paying to stay as a test nation

  • Nutcutlet on March 8, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    @Posted by anoopshameed: if you had any grasp of history, let alone cricket's history, then you wouldn't write what you have. The thought of 'Subcontinent countries' (sic) sticking together is laughable. B'desh is ICC lobby-fodder for the BCCI; that's why B'desh is there! SL was always going to be a Test-playing country as the MCC had monitored the progress through 23 tours in 90 years during the C20. Ergo, the country that did most nurturing of SL to Test status was England. And Pakistan & India have differences that are so deep that Test matches only happens one in a blue moon. Sticking together? And of course England is the only country in Europe that plays Test cricket - because for good or ill, there were no British colonies of sufficient size in Europe to sustain the growth of fc cricket. You'll have noticed that fc/Test cricket is played only in ex-British colonies, for the simple reason that cricket originated in S England in the early C16. Great sporting export, eh?

  • mihir_nam on March 8, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    Correct Anoopshameed , its such a shame that with more than 200years of Cricketing tradition in England , It cannot produce more test teams in Europe and worst is they are poaching players from upcoming teams also dependent on expats mostly south african. Whereas Ireland is ready and should play Ban Zim WI first two year...No country was dominating in early stages of Test Cricket admission .If Even today if Ban or Zim plays RSA or AUS it will be 3day affair . so bottom test teams should regularly play among themselves and one off Test against top teams