The ICC has given the green light to a Test championship and ODI league as well as allowing countries to experiment with four-day Tests.
Cricket’s governing body made the announcement after a meeting in Auckland on Friday with the inaugural Test championship scheduled to begin in 2019.
It will culminate with a final in 2021, with previous reports hinting that match could take place at Lord’s, while the one-day international league will get underway in 2021 and determine qualification for the 2023 World Cup.
ICC chief executive Dave Richardson said precise details were still to be worked out but nine teams are set to play in the Test championship, meaning Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland will initially be excluded, and 13 in the ODI league.
The nine teams are expected to play three home and away series over the two years that count for the championship, with series a minimum of two and maximum of five Tests.
The approval of both leagues is the conclusion of two years of work from the members who have explored a whole range of options to bring context to every game, Richardson said.
The ICC Board decision means we can now go and finalise a playing schedule … as well as the points system, hosting arrangements and competition terms.
Four-day Tests have also been allowed, although they will not count towards the championship as Richardson said such games are still at an experimental stage.
South Africa and Zimbabwe will meet over four days in the first scheduled four-day Test from Boxing Day.
Throughout the discussions about the future of Test cricket it became clear that whilst context is crucial we must also consider alternatives and trial initiatives that may support the future viability of Test cricket, Richardson added.
The trial is exactly that, a trial, just in the same way day-night tests and technology have been trialled.
Four-day Tests will also provide the new Test-playing countries with more opportunities to play the longer version of the game against more experienced opponents, which, in turn, will help them to hone their skills and close the gap with the top nine ranked teams.