Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, has hinted that England could host the first Test championship final during the Ashes summer of 2013 instead of the currently scheduled Champions Trophy.
The governing body are looking at ways to promote the Test game amid concerns about falling interest in the wake of Twenty20. The ICC also want to give Test matches outside of the traditionally strong series such as the Ashes more context and the idea of a championship final is the favoured option because it provides a focal point for broadcasters, supporters and sponsors.
"There's real talk of a Test play-off in the not too distant future around 2012 or 2013," Lorgat told Radio Five Live Extra. "There's a slot in 2013 that we think could work, where they would take the existing rankings table and the top four would progress into a semi-final and final.
"We have an open mind, we will structure the formats and events correctly so we are not sitting with the mindset that this is not negotiable. If that [the Champions Trophy] has to be replaced by the Test championship final, then so be it."
The sub-committee which has been tasked with evaluating the various options for Test cricket has been chaired by Dave Richardson, the ICC's general manager of cricket, and he presented a paper to the recent ICC board meeting in Singapore. Lorgat has always been open to the idea of bringing a tournament-structure to Test cricket and, although there are still hurdles to overcome, he believes important strides have been made.
"There's a lot of work that has been done," he said. "It's not straightforward and I think we will see in the not too distant future some proposal on the table. The best way for me to describe it is a work in progress. There's a lot of good work that has been done.
"They've now been tasked with putting together a firmer proposal at the next chief executive's committee meeting. I'm encouraged with the progress we've made. I'm a lot more confident now. When I first got involved it was a foreign concept.
"I'm confident when I see a lot more of the Full Members are beginning to see the need for context and the need for generating more interest in Test cricket."