Dubai: The first world champion in test cricket will be crowned in 2013.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) board agreed on Wednesday to set up a test league - along with a one-day international league - to try and boost interest.
The test league will start almost immediately and culminate in a four-team playoff in 2013.
Test cricket has world rankings but no definitive championship. Results are therefore often viewed in isolation and without an overall context.
India leads the nine-team rankings, followed by South Africa, Sri Lanka, England, Australia, Pakistan, West Indies, New Zealand and Bangladesh. Zimbabwe will return to test status in May.
Tests are still regarded as the barometer of an international cricketer’s career, but the popularity of the five-day games has dropped with the rise of the hours-long Twenty20 game.
“Restructuring international cricket is a significant strategic challenge and one that must be dealt with,” ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.
“We have now agreed in principle to exciting and far reaching proposals to tackle this most important issue.”
The ODI league will begin in April 2011 and run through April 2014, leading to a league champion. The ODI league will also provide rankings and automatic qualifiers for the World Cup. The 50-over World Cup will be run separately.
A 50-over World Cup has been running since 1975 while the first World Twenty20 was in 2007.
The ICC board also agreed to reduce the World Cup by four teams to 10 starting in 2015 and increase the World Twenty20 from 12 to 16 teams from 2012, with the women’s event continuing to run alongside.
Meanwhile, Lorgat said the board was satisfied with the “considerable progress” that Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka were making in preparing for the 2011 World Cup. He said he was especially pleased with the work being done on venues and security.