Thursday’s first Test between England and Sri Lanka is set to break fresh ground by being the first in men’s cricket where a new points system, modelled on the one used by England and Australia for the women’s Ashes, will be employed.
In a bid to provide further “context”, the results of all the international fixtures this season between England and Sri Lanka will be put together to produce an overall winner.
English cricket officials hope to have a similar system in place for Pakistan’s tour of England in the second half of the season.
Details on how points will be allocated between Tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20s are expected to be announced later Wednesday.
However, there have been reports that four points will be allocated to a Test win and two for a draw, with two points for a win in ‘white-ball’ cricket and one for a tie in any of the limited overs matches.
The system was introduced for the women’s Ashes to prevent the trophy being decided on the basis of a single Test as female international cricketers play very little long-form cricket.
But Cook, speaking at Headingley on Wednesday, insisted there was no reason why such a system could not work in the men’s game as well.
“I don’t think we’ve got anything to fear about the points system,” he said.
“If it works brilliant and if it captures people’s imaginations, or do people like the simplicity of the Test series, the one-day series, the Twenty20 series being separate, then I don’t think there’s any harm in having a look and seeing.
If it doesn’t work it doesn’t work but I think in this day and age, where franchise cricket is pushing the boundaries of international cricket smaller and smaller and is changing that, we’ve got to be open to new ideas.”
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews was unenthusiastic when asked for his view on the plan earlier this month and Atherton, writing in Wednesday’s edition of The Times said: “My reaction is one of profound indifference.
“I understand what administrators are trying to achieve, but until real context and meaning is introduced through, for example, a world Test Championship, I’ll enjoy Test cricket for what it is, and one-day cricket and T20 cricket for what they are.”
He added: “The players are unlikely to be fooled by attempts to coalesce the formats.
“In 2009, for example, England won the Ashes 2-1 and lost the ODI (one-day international) series 6-1, which means that Australia would have run out the clear overall winners.
“The reality was that England proved to be a better Test team over five games and Australia were a better one-day team.
“Sometimes it is fine to leave it at that.”