Test cricket
We might see ever-improving teams such as Ireland, Nepal and Afghanistan getting a Test status in coming years © Getty Images

Cricket lost its essence as well greatly evolved, when the administrators were overruled by marketing. Viewership for Test cricket scaled down. It was slowly going out of sync with the fans who preferred entertainment. International Cricket Council (ICC) were forced to make amendments because of this alarming lose in interest of the audience. The game was shortened even more. Gradually, it entered the new era of T20 cricket. Indeed, ICC persistently worked to globalise this gentleman’s sport. And, now it has more plans in place. Like it resolved the dropping viewership after the calamitous World Cup 2007, it has decided to add more substance to the longest format. Read – League system for Test cricket could be in place by 2019: Dave Richardson

Introduction of new Test-playing nations: We might see ever-improving teams such as Ireland, Nepal and Afghanistan getting a Test status in coming years. ICC is in the process of structuring an noncompetitive Test cricket for the associate nations. Teams will be promoted as well relegated, helping them play at the top level.

“The beauty of leagues is that, in theory, you will have a more competitive competition and teams playing each other that are of a more equal standard. They will all be striving for something. There’s something at stake. They will be thinking We could end up in the Intercontinental Cup if we’re not careful here. Hopefully that will inspire performance and make the matches more competitive,” ICC chief executive Dave Richardson told ESPNcricinfo.

After every 2 years, one team will be promoted to the next level. However, if there’s playoffs, the second team will be promoted as well it will face off with the sixth team from another division.

Warning for West Indies: This, somehow, is a warning signal to a Test-playing nation such as West Indies, as they have been in a downward surge for over half a decade. They even failed to reach the Quarter-finals of World Cup 2015 and will not feature in the next Champions Trophy.

Hence, if they fail to put up powerful performances in longer formats, they might even lose the their Full Member status. Read: ICC to split Test cricket into 2 divisions

Richardson further added: “We’re reviewing the criteria for Full Membership, which will enable countries like Ireland and Afghanistan to become Full Members. But we don’t want to link it to Test cricket. The competition structure is set separate to membership status. It’s about voting or funding opportunities.”

More opportunities for Associate nations: We saw Oman take the world by storm with its fighting spirit and Afghanistan beating the eventual champions West Indies in World T20 2016. With the new plan, the sense of competition will be hyped, compelling the Associate nations to perform at their best.

“We have 105 members at the moment and we want 105 members to be able to play T20 internationals. Obviously not all against each other at the same time but everybody should want to play the T20 format and it will appeal to all of our members. Then the better ones, the top 30 to 35, would graduate to the 50-over game and be involved in global competitions catering to approximately that number of teams,” added Richardson.

World T20 in 2018: Earlier, ICC had decided that it will stage a World T20 in 2018, given the ICC Champions Trophy was scheduled in 2017 and ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019, and both will be hosted by England. Hence, the question beckons: why the sudden change in plan? Perhaps, the answer is simple. Read: ICC need to stand up to save cricket in Ireland!

World T20 2016 was a major success for ICC. Almost every match went down to the wire. The crowd was electrifying. The tickets were sold out. Not only did ICC generate revenue but the TV viewership was much better than what it had experienced during the World Cup 2015 Down Under.

As a matter of fact, an ardent T20 fan won’t mind another World T20. And, obviously, ICC can only benefit from it.

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)