The nod was cracked — on a trial basis — at the International Cricket Council (ICC) meetings in Auckland this week‚ where approval for Test and one-day leagues was also granted.
The trial ends at the start of the 2019 World Cup‚ and whether a Test is played for four or five days will be the subject of bilateral agreement between the countries concerned.
The top nine teams will contest the test championship‚ with 13 sides vying for the honours in the ODI league.
The suits will now busy themselves with completing fixtures‚ devising points systems and finalising playing conditions.
“Our priority was to develop an international cricket structure that gave context and meaning across international cricket and particularly in the test arena‚” ICC chief executive David Richardson was quoted as saying in a release.
“This has been delivered and every Test in the new League will be a five-day test format.
“However throughout the discussions about the future of test cricket it became clear that whilst context is crucial we must also consider alternatives and trial initiatives that may support the future viability of test cricket.
“The (four-day) trial is exactly that‚ a trial‚ just in the same way day-night Tests and technology have been trialed by members.
“Four-day tests will also provide the new test-playing countries (Afghanistan and Ireland) 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.”
“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‚” Richardson was quoted as saying.
“The ODI league will be a direct qualification pathway towards the World Cup and will be contested by the 12 full members plus the winners of the current World Cricket League Championship.
“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.”
More importantly than all that‚ the release said that: “The process for the appointment of the ICC female independent director was confirmed and the recruitment will get underway in the coming week.”
Remember when cricket was a fuddy-duddy frumpery played and controlled solely by men and only in daylight hours‚ and five-day tests were sacred?
Not before time‚ the grand old game and the modern world are colliding.