ICC plans 13-nation cricket league in major ODI revamp
This is according to ESPN Crininfo who said that the plans to give a new context and relevance to cricket are at an advanced stage and can be created by 2019. The thirteen nations are expected to be the ten Test teams along with Afghanistan, Ireland and one other associate nation, with Nepal reportedly a favoured option.
The proposal comes amid fears that ODI cricket fits awkaradly between Test and Twenty20 cricket and is not liked sufficently by either traditionalists or newer fans. It is hoped that this will give ODI cricket an context and purpose, and give ODI cricket a global showpiece that it has lacked previously
However, this will not be a tournament but will rather see all countries play each other other over three years, with the top two nations playing a play-off series to determine the overall winner of the ODI league.
According to an initial plan, each team would play a three-match series against every other country, amounting to 36 ODIs each over a three-year basis. The fourth year of each cycle would be reserved for World Cup preparation.
This will then progress into a play-off series of either three or five matches which will determine the overall winner. This would also help to determine automatic qualifications and seedings for the World Cup.
The teams which finishes at the bottom after three years would face relegation to the second tier World Cricket League Championship. This would be possibly after a play-off with the winners of the World Cricket League Championship. It is hoped that there will be no exceptions even for the ten nations with full member status.
The proposed structure is intended as a minimum schedule for each country who are allowed to organise extra ODIs which would not count towards the league.
Afghanistan and Ireland are expecred to be the most obvious beneficiaries of the schedule. They would now have more confirmed matches to improve their teams, attract more fans with better matches, and receive more sponsorships. This would also bolster their chance to be among the top teams as they have already been included in the top twelve ODI ranking.
The inclusion of the the thirteenth team is likely to be more controversial. The ICC is known to be impressed by the popularity of cricket in Nepal and considering its inclusion regardless of its overall standing the 2015-17 edition of the World Cricket League Championship.
This was not bode well for Netherlands which currently leads the World Cricket League Championship and can also undermine the integrity of the structures established by the ICC.
The creation and promotion of the league is a crucial part of the strategy of the ICC to increase the number of competitive teams, and ensure that even minnows can raise to the top of the league.
The new structure would generate more broadcasting revenue over concerns about the dwindling value of bilateral cricket series. Many fans would be more enticed by the notion of a league culminating in an easily understood winner.
The plans will be discussed at the ICC annual conference which begins in Edinburgh at the end of the month. They might be agreed there but might be delayed till the ICC board meeting in October, as it would require changes to the revnue model. It is also expected that the decision to hold the World Twenty20 after every two years is likely to be ratified in the meeting.