Sunday, 18 December 2011

Time for a Multi Tier Test System

The performance of Associate XI against the no 1 test team till the time I am writing the article is commendable.ICC Associate Comb XI  made 281 and have already reduced England XI 140/6. This team is surely world class and surely calls out for more chances for Associate players. On the other hand I see the team of Bangladesh. They have been terrible at all places. They even lost the Test Match to Zimbabwe who made a comeback after 5 years. It is well known that if Associates like Ireland and Afghanistan play more matches against likes of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe they would not be thrashed around by these test nations.

More nations should be allowed the White Dress and not be limited to a select few

But another thing people ask is what is the big deal for Test Status. How does it make a difference. Well for the people who are not aware I will list down the benefits of being a Test Nation.

1. First and foremost the Test Nations get direct entry to World Cup, World Twenty20 or Champions Trophy. The associates for the same have to really fight it out like for 2012 World Twenty20 for the 2 spots 16 teams will be fighting.

2. The Test Nations get yearly around 7.5 M$ as money from ICC as participating fee for various ICC tournaments while the Top 6 Associates get around 0.6 M$ while a normal associate get 0.1 M$ while the Affiliate get a joking 15000$ a year

3. The Test Nations get to be a part of FTP where when they host other nations for Bilateral series which entitles them to earning. An India, Australia, England or Pakistan visiting you brings in good incomes in form of TV Rights.

4. As a Test Nations you get to be the part of the Executive Committee where all the power of ICC lies. The Test nations have 1 vote each while the 36 Associates have just 3 votes. You cannot dream of becoming head of ICC as this post is reserved for Test Members based on rotating system.

Seeing these benefits, one feels why Bangladesh and Zimbabwe hold the right while likes of Ireland, Kenya, Afghanistan or Scotland do not have it.

Many people will point out that Cricket is hugely popular in Bangladesh and they have shown performances that point towards improvement. OK agreed but then why limit the chances to Bangladesh and not to other nations. Or more importantly we need to establish a system where in the better performing nations get a chance to move up while the nations which are not up to the mark move downwards. 

In short it is time for a Multi Tier Test System. Under the present system the Members should be divided into 3 Tiers of I II & III. The present ranking would mean

TIER I:- Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa & West Indies
TIER II:- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland & Zimbabwe
TIER III:- UAE, Namibia, PNG, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Uganda, Oman & Italy
Rest of the Teams would be in the below Tier

The ICC funding should be directly linked to the Tier which a team is in. There should be a significant drop in funding if you drop in tier but not like the present system where the difference between Top Associate and Test Nation is around 12 times. A more reasonable number can be around 2 times. 

The tier should run for a period of 4 years at the end of which the Bottom 2 teams of the Tier Play against the Top 2 of the lower Tier. In this tournament of 4 nations the Top 2 go to the higher Tier and bottom 2 to the lower tier. The top 4 teams in Tier 1 play in the World Test Championship.

This Multi Tier would have many advantages 
1. All the Boards give most importance to the Top format because it will be linked to their funding. This would bring Test surely as the top format
2. It will bring excitement to all the Bi Lateral Test series even of the likes of Aus V NZ or Ind V WI as it can be required for Aus or Ind to be in the Top 4 while NZ and WI may be fighting to remain aloof of the Bottom 2 slots.
3. It would give fair chance to all the teams in ICC and Tests will not be a privelage available to you if you are born in certain country. It would give a chance of Associates like Ireland or Scotland to retain their players and not lose them. 
4. It will make all the nations introduce multi day format in their domestic circuit and would definitely improve the quality of cricket
5. Cricket would not be limited to 8 or 9 nations. Personally I am bored of Watching India play Aus, SL or England again and again. Seeing India play an recently upgraded team of say Ireland or Afghanistan will retain the excitement factor. It would not mean Bangladesh being bashed again and again but some different teams be bashed or rather fighting to save the Test rather than a complacent Bangladesh.

There have been various voices for Revamp of the ICC structure. This surely is the way forward and sooner ICC things about it the better it is for them.


  1. Agreed. Only that it would make more sense to make each tier with 10 teams - not saying because Nepal will be there but because it would also be fair to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to begin the cycle of promotion/relegation from where they are currently standing.

  2. I like this article Jashan -it's a well argued case - I don't agree with every detail - but it's just the right kind of stuff to help move the debate forward. Ujjwal makes a fair point - and looking at the your top eight, the question for me is about how you persuade them to deal with the inevitable consequence of promotion & relegation. If tiers are to be meaningful - there has to be scope for promotion at some stage - that means eventually 1 or 2 of the current top 8 are definitely going down to Tier 2. After what - a 3 year cycle? - one or two of the top 8 are facing relegation!! That's gonna be a tough sell :) In the long run, I'd say it could certainly be a stronger system - I hope this article gets well read - and hope you get plenty of comments and reactions.

  3. Ujjwal and McGann thanks for your comments. McGann I would like to understand what part of the article do you not agree with. That would help me to explain myself better and also improve myself for future :)

  4. I would suggest having 6 team tiers operating on 2 year cycles, playing series of 3 tests. Each team plays the other team either home or away, leading to 15 tests played over each cycle. If a team plays the other team at home, the following cycle they would play them away.

    This gives sufficient variety of teams that supporters get to see. It also means that if a team gets relegated, they won't be in the wilderness for too long before getting a chance to move up again.

    Having 15 tests is not too demanding for the players, being less than most countries play at the moment. This would leave time for other tournaments in between.

    Also, if the test series were in this structure, I wonder whether the ICC would take ownership of the tournaments, therefore earning a greater income...

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