ICC announce Future Tours Program, Test Championship and ODI League included
The ICC has released the extended Future Tours Program (FTP) that includes the World Test Championship and an ODI league as its two biggest salient features. The new FTP, amongst other things, will be the persistence of the five-game Ashes series, with Australia set to tour England in 2019, and host them Down Under in 2021-22.
The World Test Championship, a nine-team contest that will be spread across two, two-year cycles, where each side will play three home and three away series. The Australian tour of England, for the Ashes next year, slated to be held just after the World Cup, will be the first series of the championship, with the finals (not yet announced) likely to be played at Lord's.
The ODI League, that will also include Netherlands (winners of the World Cricket League Championship), will have the other twelve teams as the Test playing nations. During the qualifying period, all series will be restricted to three games. Top eight teams of the League will gain automatic qualification to the World Cup, while the rest of the positions will be secured through the World Cup Qualifiers.
The 13-team ODI League will be held from 1st May 2020 to 31st March 2022.
Afghanistan, who played their first ever Test against India this month, will not play their next red-ball game until 2020, when they contest Australia. For the first time since 1987, New Zealand will play a Test on Boxing Day, kickstarting their World Championship series with an away series against Sri Lanka in August next year. Two home Tests, against India in 2019-20, and a T20I series against Australia, will also be part of the program.
According to a Press Release, the ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson said: "The agreement of this FTP means we have clarity, certainty and most importantly context around bilateral cricket over the next five years".