ICC mulling changes, may introduce two-tier Test league, 13-team ODI league

A whole lot of changes can be expected as the ICC meet in Dubai ends on February 4. Although, the meeting’s proposals are already making rounds on Internet as drastic changes are expected with the conclusion of Dubai meet. If ICC gets through with these proposals, we might witness a 13-team ODI league and a two-year Test league. These changes will be incorporated from 2019.

A leading sports website, ESPNCricinfo reports suggest that Chief Executives Committee (CEC) have decided to take these changes forward as they intend to present them in the ICC meeting to be held in April for further approval. These changes are set to turn the present cricket calendar upside down starting from 2019 as 13 teams will engage in ODI league over a period of 3 years. The final standings of the league will have an effect on qualification for the 50-over World Cup.

The new proposal also lays emphasis on importance of bilateral series as all the teams are required to play at least one series against each other in home and away pattern. Each team will be required to play at least 12 matches in a calendar year. The 13 participating teams will also include Afghanistan, Ireland and the winner of World Cricket League. Top 7 teams will automatically qualify for the World Cup excluding the host team. The remaining teams will compete with associate nations out of which top two teams will qualify for the World Cup.

The Test format too will feature changes as Ireland and Afghanistan are expected to get Test status. They will be clubbed along with Zimbabwe which will give birth to a 9-3 format in Test format. The new proposal also aims at top tier teams playing with second tier teams as well over a period of two years. As a part of two-year cycle a team is supposed to host one nation and then tour the opponent in the text two-year cycle.

The following point is set to affect India-Pakistan teams the most as the teams need to tour and host one another for a bilateral series. In failing to do so, the teams will end up losing points in the league which will affect their standings. Recently, West Indies canceled their tour of Pakistan to be held in U.A.E due to security reasons. It will be interesting to see what steps ICC takes as Pakistan will be most affected by ICC’s reforms.

However, it is upto the two teams who will be engaged in the bilateral series to decide the length of the series. The performances of bottom three sides will be up for review after a four-year period as their Test status will be determined for the next period.

Not just ODIs and Tests, major changes will be incorporated in T20I as well. Teams will have to go through a regional qualification event which will also feature full members. All the five ICC regions will be hosting a separate event for the qualifications. The teams qualifying will go directly into T20 World Cup.