LONDON; The International Cricket Council's (ICC) cricket committee said Wednesday countries could risk losing their Test status unless they played a “minimum number of Test matches over a four-year period”.
In a statement issued after it concluded its two-day meeting at Lord's, the committee, chaired for the first time by former India captain Anil Kumble and featuring ex-England skipper Andrew Strauss, said it was concerned by several recent examples of Test matches being postponed to make way for one-day games.
The committee, while approving of all three major international formats, which also include one-day internationals and the even briefer Twenty20 fixtures, said Test cricket needed support if it was to retain its place at the pinnacle of cricket.
“The ICC cricket committee reiterated its support for the strategy of ensuring an optimum balance and a clear differentiation between the three formats of the game, and noted the need to ensure that Test cricket, in particular, was protected,” the statement said.
“Noting the examples during the year where Test matches had been postponed to make room for other formats of the game, the committee recommended that all Test playing members should be required to play a minimum number of Test matches over a four-year period in order to maintain their Test status.”
In September last year, Sri Lanka and West Indies agree to scrap a two-Test series due to take place in May and instead play a tri-series involving India.
West Indies, having hosted Zimbabwe for a two-match series, will play no further Tests in their home season after Pakistan's tour in July was also stripped of two scheduled Tests and reduced to five ODIs and two Twenty20s.
This year should have seen the first ICC World Test Championship in England but plans had to be put on hold when officials realised they were bound by commercial agreements to stage a one-day event instead, hence next month's Champions Trophy tournament in the United Kingdom.
Although Test encounters such as the Ashes between England and Australia, the latest edition of which starts in England in July, remain popular with spectators, other five-day games remain a difficult sell with many fans unable or unwilling to attend.
The cricket committee recently hit the headlines when Australia's Tim May, chief executive of The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), was replaced as a players' representative on the ICC cricket committee by India's Laxman Sivaramakrishnan.
FICA called on the ICC to investigate charges of ballot “fixing” after the former Indian leg-spinner was elected to the committee amid accusations that voters had been put under pressure.
“It's time someone stood up to this cancer of stand-over tactics that defines the ICC these days,” May said earlier this month.
While it features several distinguished cricket figures, including Sri Lanka star Kumar Sangakkara, the cricket committee can only make recommendations on cricket playing issues to the ICC's chief executives' committee and, if it is a policy matter, the ICC board for approval.
Both these committees are scheduled to meet during the ICC annual conference at Lord's from June 25-29.