CRICKET is to be transformed with the introduction of a world Test championship and a one-day international league.
The first Test championship will start in 2019 on a two-year cycle, with a one-off final in 2021 — almost certainly at Lord’s.
It means Joe Root could lift the trophy in front of his home fans after beating opponents such as the Aussies or India.
The idea — given the green light by the ICC Board at a meeting in Auckland, New Zealand — is to provide more context to Test and 50-over cricket.
Marquee series such as The Ashes generate huge interest but some other contests can struggle to attract crowds and relevance.
The No 1 team in the world Test rankings is given a glitzy mace but the points format is not considered enough to engage supporters.
And Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: “Test Match needs to try new ideas.
“You will have last-day drama on the fourth day. Average number of overs a Test takes is 331.”
ICC chairman Shashank Manohar said: “This agreement puts the interests of the development of the game first.
“Bringing context to bilateral cricket is not a new challenge but this is the first time a genuine solution has been agreed on.
“It means fans can enjoy international cricket knowing every game counts.”
The fixtures and points system have yet to be agreed but the top nine Test nations will each play six series over the two-year cycle — three at home and three away.
Each series will be at least two matches in duration and anything up to five, which allows The Ashes to count towards the final points tally.
The one-day league will begin in 2020-21 and comprise 13 nations. The top ten will qualify for the 2023 World Cup.
Ben Stokes pictured preparing for his wedding two weeks on from brawl
‘MY TOTAL SUPPORT’
Ben Stokes’ agent backs cricketer after getting explanation for brawl
Ben Stokes dropped by sponsors as things take ANOTHER turn for the worse
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim taken to hospital after blow to the head
Alex Hales told by police he is ‘not under investigation’ over Ben Stokes fight
All matches in the Test championship will be played over five days but the ICC approved the staging of some four-day Tests before 2019 — if both countries agree.
This will enrage traditionalists, who believe five-day matches should be sacrosanct and will point to a thrilling fifth day at Headingley this summer when West Indies beat England.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis is among the purists. He said: “I am a fan of five-day cricket and some of the great Test matches have gone to the last over on day five — and that is so special.
HOW IT WORKS
*A Test championship contested by the top nine teams over a two-year cycle, culminating in a one-off final.*
*A 13-team ODI league, with top ten qualifying for the 2023 World Cup.*
* Four-day Tests to be trialled over next two years, starting on Boxing Day (South Africa v Zimbabwe).
*Points system and fixtures for each competition TBC
2 South Africa
4 New Zealand
6 Sri Lanka
8 West Indies
“Four-day or first-class cricket does feel a little bit easier, while for five days you have to craft, bowlers have to bowl a lot more and batters have to construct much bigger innings.”
Yet administrators say day five at Tests lose money because the attendance does not cover the cost of hiring staff.
Playing conditions for four-dayers have not been finalised but each day will be longer than for five-day Tests and contain more than the current 90 overs.
The first four-day Test will be between South Africa and Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth on Boxing Day.
ICC chief executive Dave Richardson said: “We must consider alternatives and trial initiatives that could support the future viability of Test cricket.
BET £10 GET A FREE £30 BET WITH SUN BETS
“This four-day trial is exactly that, a trial.”
Ex-Rangers star Bob Malcolm goes from Old Firm to selling ice creams out of van
Shocking moment thug punches fan after refusing to sit during NFL game
England face World Cup 2018 Group of Death… with Iceland rematch on the cards
Man Utd to make £50m bid for Danny Rose in January after Spurs calendar snub
Liverpool are in deep trouble… with Mourinho set to go with a back six
Who is Harlem Eubank and what relation is he to IBO Champ Chris Eubank Jr?
Richarlison couldn’t afford boots in Brazil, now he’s tasting the high life
‘WAS A PLEASURE’
Dele Alli shows caring side as he visits sick kids at children’s hospital
STAND UP FOR KENNY
Liverpool unveil Kenny Dalglish Stand at star-studded Anfield ceremony