MCC news January 15, 2014

MCC reiterates Test Championship support

ESPNcricinfo staff

The MCC's world cricket committee, an influential if powerless voice in the affairs of the game, has reiterated its support for the creation of a World Test Championship (WTC), even as it appears the ICC has resolved to go down an alternative route. With broadcasters and commercial partners reluctant to back the concept, the MCC has attempted to keep the idea alive by demanding that two teams contest a WTC 'final', at the very least, in 2017.

A planned first edition of the WTC, involving the top four teams in the ICC's Test rankings, was mooted for 2013 but had to be shelved due to broadcast deals already in place for the Champions Trophy. The next gap in the cycle will be 2017 but problems with the proposed format - in the event of drawn or rain-affected matches - and in stirring sponsor and TV interest have undermined its viability.

However, the world cricket committee, which includes former players such as Rahul Dravid, Andrew Strauss, Steve Waugh and Shaun Pollock and chaired by former England captain Mike Brearley, has called on the ICC to end uncertainty about the WTC and confirm its implementation in some form, to help safeguard the future of Test cricket.

In a statement, the MCC said: "Since its creation in 2006, the WCC have stated that everything possible should be done to promote and protect Test cricket, which it believes is the ultimate form of the game. The committee understands the commercial sensitivities and logistical issues surrounding the proposed World Test Championship, but feels that a solution must be found.

"Whilst the committee would ultimately like to see the currently-proposed four-team knockout competition proceed, it believes that a scaled-down version involving the top two teams in either a one-off Test final or Test series would still provide a context that the longest form of the game currently lacks in comparison to ODI and T20 cricket."

The committee added that a championship involving just two teams was not ideal but "would be better than nothing". ESPNcricinfo understands, however, that the ICC is instead considering a two-tier system, with promotion and relegation.

Worries about the predominance of bilateral series between the major Test-playing nations, to the detriment of countries such as New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe - currently ranked eighth, ninth and tenth - has in part fuelled the MCC's concerns, amid a desire to give the five-day game added context. Another issue raised at the cricket committee's latest biannual meeting, which took place on Monday and Tuesday in Abu Dhabi, was the need for the Future Tours Programme (FTP), which sets out ICC Members' commitments in advance, to be binding.

In recent times, several countries have made changes to planned series, often at the expense of Test cricket. Sri Lanka postponed the Test leg of South Africa's tour in mid-2013, while West Indies and Sri Lanka agreed to drop a Test series in favour of an ODI tri-tournament involving India. More recently, India curtailed its tour of South Africa and inserted ad hoc series against West Indies - although this occasion resulted in additional Tests, including Sachin Tendulkar's final international appearance, being added to the schedule.

The cricket committee called such alterations "highly destabilising" and said that "certainty of match programming is essential for the proper administration of cricket amongst ICC members".

The MCC world cricket committee, of which membership is voluntary, was established in 2006 to provide an independent voice in the global game and regularly makes recommendations to the ICC. It has no remit to implement policy but has an unofficial position as one of the sport's guardians.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jay on January 17, 2014, 4:53 GMT

    I am not a supporter of test cricket. However, like I have always said, test cricket is a relic and I accept its history and heritage. For the sake of this forum, I have my own proposal that could be taken into account. I welcome the two-tier system which would provide a lot more context to the format of test cricket. Firstly, it gives the much needed boost to the egos and pride of top test nations in that they can aptly deserve their rankings, especially the top 3 or 4 nations. The teams in the second division can take motivation and strive hard to climb up the rankings. Doing so should provide them some form of monetary benefit such as bonus cash prizes, awards etc. Lastly, the matches should be played by the teams at home and away versus different teams in their own division to determine proper points. The final championship test should be best of 3 and played at a neutral venue. Also, the pitches should be supervised by the ICC to give a fair result. This can be achieved.

  • Dummy4 on January 16, 2014, 23:12 GMT

    This is ridiculous.

    Kill off Tests & ODIs? Seriously?

    Doing that will kill off everything that makes cricket great. The drama, the theatre, the history. The potential for heroes and villians over 5 days, over meaningful series.

    Technique, Skill, Patience, Temperament - all which is diluted in the T20 form.

    Take T20... in this age of social media, T20 is almost like a vine video. Perhaps a 2 min youtube clip. You watch it, you enjoy it. But production values and plotlines aren't necessarily there. It's just entertainment in bitesized form.

    I would say ODIs are like a feature film. The opportunity to build a plotline, to entice the audience to buy in to it on an emotional level. Think about games of ODIs that go down to the wire with ridiculous ebbs and flows.

    Test series are like a TV show, each test being a season. Ultimate feast of the psyche for a true cricket fan.

    p.s. I'm 24 and absolutely love my Test & ODI cricket (there goes your >50 theory @JohnRajkumar)

  • Keiran on January 16, 2014, 11:36 GMT

    The current test mace is a pointless effort. The concept of a 4 team championship is a pointless effort (and makes no sense - who is surprised broadcasters arent interested?).

    There may be verious sustainable models - I think one is below. But I believe the elimination of ODI cricket is essential. My proposal:

    1. Kill off 50 over cricket at international level. (Its a nice format for development purposes though).

    2. Focus on building T20 - it is a great format to spread the game. Have at least 3 months of the year blocked off. During this 3 months no international cricket can take place and all the cricket unions around the world can compete for the dollars with their own domestic T20 circuses.

    3. The other 9 months of the year are dedicated to bilateral tours consisting of 3 test matches and 5 t20's. All tours must be standardised and played home and away over four years. With a champion declared every two years. (Because every two years you can draw a log from the last 4).

  • Jacob on January 16, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    Now that the Ashes are over, the India bashers are back! Welcome back folks!

    The truth of the matter is - most Indians don't care about tests. Indians are good in shorter forms (ODIs and T20s) and they will (and should) stick to their strengths.

    Other countries would just follow suit, whether they like it or not. This can be painful, but this is what the market - not BCCI - dictates.

    I love tests, but I hate to say this: tests will die in my lifetime (hope I have another 30 years), except may be Ashes - even that will lose its charm given the overkill.

    So please hold back the snide remarks, it is like barking at the moon (with apologies to Ozzy).

  • Dummy4 on January 16, 2014, 3:01 GMT

    Everyone over the age of 50 should not have a voice on the demise of test cricket, after all they have enjoyed it for 50 overs but no one does now ( ashes aside, let aus and eng play every 6 months avoiding april and may so they can play the IPL)

  • Dummy4 on January 16, 2014, 2:59 GMT

    This will largely go unnoticed. A proposal:

    Test WC of sorts to be held every four years in conjunction with FTP.

    Contested between top 8. However, only top 6 ranked teams automatically qualify.

    Knock-out qualifying tournament held the year before WC between teams 7-10 and the 4 highest ranked associates to give associates exposure & a slim chance to qualify for WC. Tournament hosted in an associate country for exposure.

    7th ranked full member vs 4th highest ranked associate - 8th vs 3rd highest associate etc.

    Win two tests and you're in the top 2. Rankings to determine who is Q1 and Q2. Tests will have 2 reserve days (for rain). If 450 overs are bowled, first inns lead determines result. Duration: 20 days

    2 pools of 4, each pool stage to be hosted in 1st and 2nd ranked nations. Played concurrently, duration of this stage. 3 tests each over 24 days.

    Semis & Final will be hosted in a predetermined location. 2 reserve days for the Semi, 2 test series for final.

  • Bludging on January 16, 2014, 2:21 GMT

    This idea of a top division for the major test nations is a great idea.

    Question is, when India falls into the 2nd division, which they will, will they try to get better or call foul?

    Make it happen ICC.

  • radha on January 15, 2014, 22:59 GMT

    BCCI should not be blamed for everything that's happening the world governing body should have powers to control or administrate the game. The WTC is not a requirement either ensuring all the test nations play equal amount of test cricket among all of them and also both home and away in a period of 4 years should decide the #1 Team should suffice. BCCI might be the richest body among the other boards, but that is becoz of the fan following in india for cricket and also a market for corporates to cash in, which is not the same in other countries, ENG, NZ, AUS and SA have Football and Rugby, AUS have many other sports also.

  • Michael on January 15, 2014, 22:28 GMT

    2017 can be a year devoted to promoting Test cricket as the main dish. A championship then would fit in well-with 3 extra games involving the top 4 ranked sides.It can be there in the summer in the same way a World cup or Champion's trophy would be,alongside scheduled bilateral series. I would suggest also the retention of Champions Trophy to run every 4 years rather than 2 and would adopt the idea of cutting down on other meaningless bilateral ODI series or extra games within normal series so that 5 games were the maximum rather than 7. There is room for both the Test Championship and the CT, which is quite a hit still.

  • Daniel on January 15, 2014, 20:58 GMT

    Can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think the apparent ICC model of 2 tiers is far far better. A proper Championship over 4 years (with no finals like the EPL) is the right model for the practicalities and cadences of Test cricket. Playing 4 years and then having one-off semis and a final is a ridiculous concept.

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