It all points out to an ICC Test Cricket Championship by the year 2013. Right now the ICC administration is going through the logistical possibilities of making this a reality and will come out with their findings by the end of 2010.
Prior to this the only other efforts in this direction was the Asian Test Championship which was held among India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and was conducted only twice. In 1998-99 Pakistan won the inaugural Championship and in 2001-02 Sri Lanka emerged as champions. It was originally planned that the tournament would be held every two years, alternatively with the Asia Cup.
A new lease of life for Test cricket
Way back in 1912 Triangular a Test Tournament, was held between Australia, England and South Africa.
In 2006, the Asian Cricket Council canceled the Asian Test Championship due to the tightly packed international cricket tour schedule.
However the call for such a Test championship has been mooted since the arrival of the T-20 version of the game and the pundits of the game feared that Test cricket may become a victim of this development and die a natural death.
MCC is one of the most vociferous and most concerned about this development has been pressurizing the ICC to take remedial steps. Reciprocally the ICC appointed a four member committee to probe into the possibility of conducting such a championship. The committee comprised the Chief Executive of the Australian Cricket Board James Southerland, Secretary BCCI N. Srinivasan, Secretary SLC Interim Committee Nishantha Ranatunga and a representative of the ECB.
Explaining how the championship is proposed to run an SLC spokesman said, “The main criteria in this effort would be to give all Test playing nations within the ICC an equal opportunity to get into the top four. To do that every Test playing nation has to be playing each other on a home and away basis even once within that stipulated period. For example England has to play Sri Lanka at home and away even once within the stipulated period for both countries to be in the reckoning for it. Right now all participating nations have agreed to adhere by this stipulation. At the same time according to the ICC Future Tours Programme there is a requirement to this effect.”
Nevertheless the current disparity in the arrangement is so huge that in spite of Sri Lanka lying at the fourth position of the ICC rankings the last occasion that Australia visited Sri Lanka was in the 2003/04 season which is well out of the equation of the ICC requirement for a Test championship.
Sri Lanka last visited Australia for a Test series in the 2007/08 season for the Murali/Warne Trophy.
When posed this question about the discrepancy, the SLC spokesman said “With the new ICC stipulation all Test playing nations will have to adhere to it. However each country also has the right to play matches outside the FTP. The ICC will consider what is vital for the Test championship and name them beforehand”.
However a logistical hurdle that most sides face is that a tournament which is played over a period of time may not carry the same faces as it progresses. He said that they are looking into acceptable solutions to this pose.
At the post Test match press conference in Galle the Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara answering a question on the acceptability of the ICC rankings he explained that what is most important in scenario was equal opportunities to all Test playing nations and each Test playing nation should play each other more often. He did not seem to like the idea of taking-on on strong oppositions like Australia on sporadic two test affairs.
He also explained how the timings of the Test championship work. In all probabilities the ICC will do away with the current ICC Champions trophy to make way for the Test championship.
Then the list of ICC tournaments will read as ICC World Cup (50-Over tournament) once in 4 years.
The ICC T-20 tournament will take place once in every 2-3 years and ICC Test championship once every 3-4 years.
Finally the SLC spokesman added:
“The timings of the two bottom tournaments will be decided once the ICC team that has been entrusted with the job completes the logistical process”.