ICC planning for Test championship
England could host an inaugural Test championship during the 2013 Ashes summer, ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat today revealed.
Cricket’s governing body have been considering the possibility of introducing a Test championship as they seek to create extra interest in the longest format of the game.
An ICC sub-committee has been tasked with investigating the idea, with issues such as the format and scheduling of the tournament in a busy international calendar key factors to overcome.
However, the Lorgan suggested the ICC were looking into the possibility of staging a Test championship instead of the 2013 Champions Trophy, which England is due to host.
“There’s real talk of a Test play-off in the not too distant future around 2012 or 2013,” Lorgat said.
“There’s a slot in 2013 that we think could work, where they would take the existing rankings table and the top four would progress into a semi-final and final.
“We have an open mind, we will structure the formats and events correctly so we are not sitting with the mindset that this is not negotiable.
“If that (the ICC Champions Trophy) has to be replaced by the Test championship final, then so be it.”
The sub-committee, which is made up of the governing body’s general manager for cricket Dave Richardson and five ICC member-nation chief executives, presented a discussion paper to the ICC board at their meeting in Singapore last month.
Lorgat said he was “encouraged” by their findings and, while he admits a final proposal is still some way off, he believes the concept is closer to reality than it has ever been.
“There’s a lot of work that has been done. It’s not straightforward and I think we will see in the not-too distant future some proposal on the table,” he added.
“The best way for me to describe it is a work in progress. There’s a lot of good work that has been done.
“They’ve now been tasked with putting together a firmer proposal at the next chief executive’s committee meeting. I’m in encouraged with the progress we’ve made.
“I’m a lot more confident now. When I first got involved it was a foreign concept.
“I’m confident when I see a lot more of the full members are beginning to see the need for context and the need for generating more interest in Test cricket.”
Meanwhile, Lorgat wants discussion on the prospect of international cricket returning to Pakistan to begin by the end of next year - and claimed he would personally join any team touring the nation.
Pakistan has not hosted an international series since the Sri Lanka team bus was ambushed in a gun attack before a Test match in Lahore in March last year.
Sri Lanka immediately abandoned the tour after seven players were injured, while the bus driver was killed, with subsequent scheduled tours to Pakistan having been staged at neutral venues.
Pakistan are currently playing a two-Test series against Australia in England, while they have also 'hosted' limited overs series with England and New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates.
Lorgat is fearful, however, that a lack of cricket in Pakistan could undermine the future of the game in the country, hinting that the ICC may look to send a hand-picked XI in the future to cover the lack of bi-lateral series in the Asian nation.
And while the 50-year-old said he would join any touring team, he emphasised security intelligence would play a key role in deciding whether such tours were viable.
"It will always be dependent on the expert advice of the security experts, but we think that perhaps towards the end of next year we must start looking at what the horizon looks like and if it is at all possible (to send a team to Pakistan)," he said.
"We will assess the situation very, very carefully and assess the situation. We know that we can't leave things as they are if it is at all possible to play in Pakistan.
"I'm not just suggesting a bi-lateral series, it may be an ICC XI (that tour Pakistan). Whether it's a youth team, and older team, or whatever... I would go with that team as well.
"We need to look at it. We shouldn't just sit back and do nothing. But we certainly would not do something that is not properly calculated."