Regular Test matches between non-WTC members and Associate nations on ICC's agenda in next FTP cycle
Notably, the non-WTC teams such as Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland have only played ten Tests between them in the current cycle.
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The International Cricket Council (ICC) is pondering over an enhanced structure to provide more Test-playing opportunities to Full Members outside the World Test Championship (WTC) and Associates in the next Future Tours Program (FTP).
The cricket body in its recent meeting, which was held last week, took in the possibility of revisiting a past effort to form a second division for Test cricket. Various sources suggest that the format could be a mixed structure involving Afghanistan, Ireland, Zimbabwe, and Associate nations with ODI status including Netherlands, Scotland, and potentially others.
Apart from this, the Test commitments for three Full Members who are not a part of WTC has been another issue that needs to be resolved as the next cricket calendar from 2023-31 approaches.
“I know it has been mooted”, an administrator told ESPNcricinfo. “I think every nation and every governing body is trying to find ways to make the game better. We’re here to deliver cricket and improve the standards of cricket globally.”
There’s a lot of things in the mix before you actually commit: ICC Administration
Another official close to the developments said Full Members outside the WTC had pushed for a formalized “second division” for the WTC. Simply put, this would provide similar context to Tests for the non-WTC members as there now exists for those in the WTC. Though he did stress that discussions were informal and at a very early stage.
“What does it look like? Where would we want more cricket?” said one administrator. “Would it achieve our ambitions? There’s a lot of things in the mix before you actually commit and dig deep into it. If it was kicking around, we’d certainly want to be in the conversation.” said the administrator.
“It was a finance-driven issue,” said the administrator. “It was about affordability. Again, what does a new tournament look like? What is the cost of running it? You have to be able to fund it to do it properly. So until any detail is produced, you can’t make any informed decisions.
“Being an Associate, it’s quite a tough world when it comes to finances when you’re trying to compete and do the best but you’ve only got a limited budget. So while you want to play cricket, the big question is always – can you afford it?”
Notably, the non-WTC teams such as Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland have only played ten Tests between them in the current cycle. Even as they have slightly more multi-day cricket scheduled in the imminent cricket calendar, the frequency is not up by much.