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ICC plans to save Test Cricket

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The International Cricket Council approved plans for new international Test and ODI leagues on Friday.

The Test Series League, expected to be implemented in 2019, will see nine teams play six series over two years – three home and three away – with each having a minimum of two Tests and culminating in a World Test League Championship Final played at Lords.

The ODI league will be a direct qualification pathway towards the ICC Cricket World Cup. The new league would see the top-13 teams play eight series lasting three matches over three years as opposed to the current system where there is automatic qualification to the top seven ranked teams and a qualifying tournament held for the remaining eighth place.

Trials of four-day test matches will also be instigated as a way to expose newly appointed test playing nations to more fixtures against high ranking opponents.

So what could this mean for test cricket? 

In 2003, when the ECB introduced the revolutionary T20 format, interest in Cricket was shrinking with dwindling crowds and reduced sponsorship. Nowadays the reduced formats are truly global, with over one billion people watching the Indian Premier League this year, (India's domestic 20 over tournament).

But all this success of T20 set-ups has only cemented views of Test match cricket being “boring” and out of touch with modern audiences. Principles such as four day and day-night Test matches are striving to make the game more accessible, whilst a league will supposedly make teams more competitive avoiding one-sided fixtures.

The ICC have not reinvented the sport as the ECB did in 2003, but they have listened to supporters and heavily cross-examined ways to improve the longer formats.

If they have done their research correctly these proposals will undoubtedly improve the sport. The future of the game looks to be going in the right direction – for now.

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