With the focus on administrators' attempts to juggle the three formats of the game, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) moved in quickly to affirm their support to a world Test championship soon after the world body said England and India were the only countries blocking the proposed venture. A day after the claim of Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, the ECB officials said they were receptive to such a model for Test cricket for some time now - their only concerns being over the mechanism employed.
"We are fully engaged with the ICC over proposals for a world Test championship and are supportive in principle," said an ECB spokesman. However, England are against the proposed plan which would result in all Test nations playing each other over a four-year cycle, with the highest-placed teams competing for the championship in a one-off final. The championship would replace bilateral Test series thus ensuring a fair balance of Test matches for everyone and also streamline a packed calendar.
India are also against the idea because it would mean sharing the money from television rights with everyone. England also fear that it would mean the end to their high-profile Ashes series with Australia. Such a qualification process also contains some stumbling blocks, primarily the change in strength of teams over such a long period of time. If the championship cycle was shortened, it would run the risk of money-spinning series against Australia, South Africa and India being shortened to accommodate matches against lesser draws such as Bangladesh, New Zealand and West Indies. "The only two countries who do not see the argument are India and England, but debate is growing all the time," Lorgat said.
@Email:email@example.com While there is global concern for the state of the Test game, it is still thriving in England, where a day's play against top-class opposition is seldom watched by anything other than a full house. Sponsorship and television income is also based on the big campaigns. Lorgat told the Guardian: "I would like to convince people that the way to ensure Test cricket survives is through a championship model.
"The only two countries who do not see the argument are India and England, but debate is growing all the time. "The MCC seem to have come out in favour but when I met the ECB recently it was the wrong time to tackle them in detail. They were too high on the Ashes. "I don't understand their thinking. The original plan was to have a four-year cycle for the championship, which protects icon series like the Ashes. It was very doable. Our Future Tours Programme will meet soon as the current schedule runs to May 2012.
"I would really like to see the Test championship included from there on."