ICC keen to form a Test Championship League

With sagging interest in Tests, the ICC is working at various ways to rejuvenate this format, perhaps by creating some form of a Test Championship League.

updated: December 29, 2009 08:20 IST
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New Delhi:

With sagging interest in Test cricket, the ICC is working at various ways to rejuvenate this format, perhaps by creating some form of a Test Championship League (TCL).

It is also looking into India's concerns over filing of individual 'whereabouts' under anti-doping measures which the country's cricketers have refused to sign as yet.

World cricket's governing body does not agree with the view that the Umpire Decision Review System has put pressure on the umpires or that the BCCI's IPL was weaning away players from their national commitments.

In an exlusive interview, ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat expressed confidence that the issue of Indian players' objections on WADA 'whereabouts' clause would be sorted out.

"We are trying to skin the cat differently," he said on the issue on which the Indian players have raised strong objections.

Recalling last year's experience in Mohali where crowds were sparse during the India-England Test match, he said the ICC has since attempted to form some sort of Championship model for Test cricket.

"If you really want to know who is the Test champion then you need better context by creating some form of a Test Championship League and we haven't got that. That's something that we are trying to achieve", he said.

"There are many ideas all over the place and we have formed a sub-committee that will seek to pull it all together by formulating proposals for the Chief Executives Committee to consider in due course" Lorgat said on some of the ideas the ICC was working on to revive Test cricket.

That included David Morgan's model of four-day matches and research on day-night cricket.

Asked about India's objections to the TCL, he said "not all members were in favour of the previous model (World Test Championship) as it impacted their scheduling. This proposal was therefore not agreed to by the ICC Board.

"The whole point is that we should have an open mind for ideas that will retain and grow interest in the game because without question we see Test cricket as the pinnacle of our sport."

At the last meeting of the Chief Executives, the ICC reconstituted the group looking into promotion of Test cricket. Dave Richardson, David Collier, N Srinivasan, James Sutherland and Nishanta Ranatunga are members of the committee.

Lorgat said surveys from time to time have established that players want to play Test cricket and that is where they see the most enjoyment, the biggest test of their skill and that is the form by which they want to be measured.

"All the evidence points towards Test cricket as being the pinnacle of the sport," he said.

Asked whether the IPL Twenty20 games have affected conventional cricket and players' responsibility to the national team, Lorgat said there must be a balance between all the three formats.

"We believe that all three formats are viable but in scheduling we should ensure that we retain balance between the formats," he said.

Lorgat said it was not entirely true the perception that Test players were shirking their national responsibilities in favour of IPL.

"There is quite a number of players who are seeking to ensure that they are in peak condition for Test cricket by opting out of the IPL and the IPL also encourages international cricket first," he said.

Answering questions on Indian cricketers' refusal to sign the anti-doping measures agreement under WADA, the ICC Chief Executive said there was a concern expressed by the BCCI that it (agreement) was "unconstitutional" in India and "we are busy looking into that".

"We have had discussions with WADA as well and that is a work in progress. We are making good progress with a team working on it together with India and other members and hopefully by the next Chief Executives' meeting, we will present a revised proposal on how to deal with this one issue on the filing of 'wheareabouts'", he said.

Lorgat said that everything else exists and in fact there was no difficulty in carrying out doping tests in and out of competition.

"So the fact that the players are not filing whereabouts is not preventing out of competition testing. It just means it's more difficult to find who is where, which is what this system is meant to alleviate", Lorgat said, adding that on this one particular issue the ICC was trying to find ways of resolving.

The BCCI, he said, felt it was an invasion of privacy and there were some security concerns if player whereabouts were known.

"Our and WADA's argument is that it is a secure system like how bank information is secured but if people have concerns about their safety, we have to respect that and we are seeking an alternate solution," he said.

On the Test ranking system under which India, which has not beaten South Africa and Australia in their country, have been placed on top, Lorgat said unless there was a clear cut competition on a home and away basis in a defined period there cannot be a perfect starting point.

"The current ranking system takes into account the system that we have where members arrange their matches bilaterally. Some play others on a more regular basis and less so against others.

"With that imperfect foundation, we have developed a ranking system under which you rate the teams. I am almost certain, you would agree that currently India, South Africa and Australia are the top three teams, and that is exactly what the rankings show," he said.

Asserting that this was the best ranking system the ICC had, he said Test Championship league could be a better way of ranking but it has still not come about.

On allegations that BCCI uses its financial clout to get its way through in ICC, he said "you often get this perception created, but it is not true".

He said the ICC has a Board of Directors responsible for managing international cricket and like any other Board the BCCI puts forward its case.

"I can tell you that there are many instances where the BCCI rightfully succeeds in getting its proposal through because it makes sense. People support it. There are cases where they do not succeed because the ICC Board has to determine what is in the best interests of the game", he said.