NZC 'big supporter' of two-tier Test system, says CEO
New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White has said his board fully supports the proposal to have two tiers in Test cricket
New Zealand Cricket's chief executive David White has said his board fully supports the proposed two-tier system in Tests. Such a move, White believed, would add context to the game, but he also underlined the need for ICC to ensure that teams pushed down to the second division don't suffer financially. White also advocated trimming Test matches to four days apiece. "We are big supporters [of the two-tier system]," White, who is also the Full-Member representative on the ICC Cricket Committee, told ESPNcricinfo. "There's already lot of interest in New Zealand in Test cricket, but if we had a competition with promotion and relegation and a winner at the end, it would really increase interest, no doubt about that.
"Everyone agrees we need context, we need something that's aspirational. [But] the countries who don't make the top division in the first instance [should not be] not disadvantaged financially - that's really important."
ICC chief executive David Richardson had put forward the plan in June, saying the governing body was contemplating an increase in the number of countries with Test status and then separating them into two groups - the top seven and the bottom five - based on performance. New Zealand, as of July 18, are ranked No. 5 in Tests, which will see them in division one should the proposal be passed.
White said NZC would support the proposal even if it meant New Zealand were relegated to division two. "We support meritocracy. If you're good enough, you're good enough - if you're not good enough you shouldn't be there," White said. "It's incumbent upon us to make sure we are good enough.
"It will make people look at their high-performance programmes and their systems, so the product of Test cricket will improve as well."
Over the past month, the boards of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have both said they are in opposition to the plan. BCB vice-president Mahbubul Anam said Bangladesh's standard of cricket was likely to "regress" if they were not given the opportunity to play against the top sides - at No. 9, Bangladesh would fall into division two. Sri Lanka are ranked at No. 7, meaning they will make division one, but SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala voiced concerns over the financial ramifications of the proposed system. Instead, the SLC put forward the idea of four-day Tests, which White said appealed to him.
"One of the challenges at the moment is if you play a three-Test series it has to be played over four weeks: four weeks is a long time," White said. "But if you play a three-Test series of four-day cricket it can be played over three weeks, so you save a week. And, as we know, the calendar is very congested. There's a lot of work to be done around this but it's certainly a concept that's worth exploring further."