International cricket inched closer towards providing more context to all One-Day International matches and Test Cricket after the administrators proposed a two-year Test league and a 13-team ODI league to be implemented from 2019. There will also be a regional qualification process for the World T20 as per the proposal.
According to ESPNCricinfo, the Chief Executives Committee (CEC), during the two-day meeting in Dubai, arrived at this conclusion which will now be tabled at the ICC meeting in April for approval. Once it is approved, there will be a significant change to the cricket calendar from 2019, with 13 teams playing over a period of three years in an ODI league, with final positions having a bearing on qualification to the 50-over World Cup.
Each team will have to play a home and away series against all other teams within that period. A minimum of 12 matches will have to be played by every team in a year as well. The 13 teams are likely to comprise the ten full members, Afghanistan, Ireland and the winner of the World Cricket League. At the end of the three-year period, the top seven sides in the league along with the host nation will qualify for the World Cup. The remaining five will get involved in a qualifying tournament along with some associate teams, out of which two will proceed for the ten-team mega event.
In the Test format, Ireland and Afghanistan are likely to get Test status and be paired with Zimbabwe in a 9-3 format as the bottom three sides. The top nine teams will play each other and against the bottom three teams as well over a two-year period. The two teams involved in the bilateral series will determine the length of the series. This will also follow a home and away format similar to the ODI league. The team that tours a particular country in the first two-year cycle will host them in the next period.
If a team declines to tour/host a particular country, then they will have to forfeit points. The full member teams can also play among themselves outside the mandatory home and away series. At the end of the four-year period, the performances of the bottom three sides will likely come up for review to determine their Test status going forward.
For T20Is, a regional qualification event that will feature the full member teams and the associate teams, has been proposed to be held in all five ICC regions. Teams will enter this event on the basis of the points they fetch while playing bilateral T20I series (maximum of three matches). This regional tournament will determine the teams that will be going through to the World T20. With confusion prevailing over the World T20 being a biennial or a quadrennial tournament, the duration of the cycle for any league structure similar to the ODI and Test leagues hasn’t been determined yet.