Dubai: The International Cricket Council (ICC) board meeting in Auckland has launched a nine-team Test league and a 13-team ODI league aimed at bringing context and meaning to bilateral cricket.
The Test series league will see nine teams play six series over two years — three home and three away — with each having a minimum of two Tests and a maximum of five and all matches being played over five days culminating in a World Test League Championship Final. The Test league will start in 2019 and the final will be held at the Lord’s two years later.
The ODI league will be a direct qualification pathway towards the ICC Cricket World Cup and will be contested by the 12 Full Members plus the winners of the current ICC World Cricket League Championship. This will see in the first edition of the league, each side will play four home and four away series each comprising of three ODIs moving to all teams playing each other from the second cycle onwards.
A few countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, who are unable to play their home series in their country may be hosting their home series here.
Mazhar Khan the administrator of the Emirates Cricket Board, told Gulf News: “It’s a great news for Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah as cricketing venues. More activities here would mean further development of the UAE cricket, too.”
The ICC Board also approved a trial of four-day Tests matches to run through until the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Members will be able to schedule four-day games by bilateral agreement and a set of standardised playing conditions will now be finalised.
ICC chief executive David Richardson explained the decision. “Four-day Tests will also provide the new Test playing countries with more opportunities to play the longer version of the game against more experienced opponents, which, in turn, will help them to hone their skills and close the gap with the top nine ranked teams,” he said. South Africa and Zimbabwe set to trial the first in December
It has also been decided eligibility on the basis of nationality (residency) has changed to the player needing to reside in country for a three-year period in both the men’s and women’s games.
Mazhar feels that this will boost cricket standards in the UAE. “Three-year eligibility rule would mean the standard of cricket will improve with influx of more and more cricketers from full member nations here. Women’s cricket is growing at a huge pace here and one may find more talented women cricketers from full member countries playing for Associate nations,” he said.
The earlier qualification rule was four-years’ stay in a country.
The other decisions include that ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier will be held in Zimbabwe in March 2018 and Namibia have been confirmed as the host of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in February 2018 while the Netherlands have been approved as the host of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier 2018.