Australia to play fewer Tests, more T20s

Australia will play fewer Tests and one-day internationals but more Twenty20 matches under a radical international overhaul headlined by the long-awaited introduction of a world Test championship.

 

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday signed off on plans to give Test and one-day international matches greater context and relevance amid concerns about dwindling interest and attendances.

Australia's 2019 Ashes campaign in England will potentially be the first series played for points under a nine-team world Test championship.

ICC chief executive Dave Richardson said that while details were yet to be finalised, the championship would begin after the 50-over World Cup in 2019 and culminate with a final in mid-2021.

A 13-team ODI league - with series capped at three matches - will be introduced from 2021 and determine which teams qualify for the World Cup in India two years later.

Test cricket is set for a change. Pic: Getty

Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said the revamp would likely result in Australia playing slightly fewer Tests and open up the schedule for more T20s to be played.

"I do believe that the prestige and the level of engagement with Test cricket will be higher if we make it more precious," Sutherland told reporters.

"Making it more precious means we play it in certain windows, it has structure, there is context as part of the Test championship ... it's not meaningless and people are wondering why it's being played.

"All of those things I think come together to be something that's very, very exciting for international cricket."

Nine of the 12 Test-approved countries - Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland will be excluded initially - will play three home and three away series over the two years that count towards the championship.

The series can be a minimum of two matches and maximum of five, with points to be allocated for winning individual Tests as well as claiming overall victory in each series.

The top-two teams in April 2021 will meet two months later in the final, with "significant" prize money expected to go to the winner.

Sutherland confirmed the Ashes would continue to be hosted by each nation at least once every four years despite the major scheduling changes.

"The Ashes will continue to be the biggest Test event that we play in," he said.

"These matches will have even greater meaning than they do currently if that's possible."

The ICC will also allow countries to experiment with four-day Test matches, although they will not carry championship points.

Sutherland said Australia were unlikely to play any such contests in the near-future with tough series against England, South Africa, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka scheduled across the next two years.

Reuters/AAP

feedback