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Reports: ICC plan new league to change ODI cricket

The sport's governing body is planning to introduce a 13-team ODI league with the two top-ranked nations facing off each other in a final.

ICC Cricket
The ICC is planning a major revamp to ODI cricket with the introduction of a league championship featuring 13 teams

The International Cricket Council is planning a major revamp of the ODI Cricket structure with calls for the formation of a league style format featuring 13 international teams, with the winner to be decided by a final between the two top-ranked teams over a three-year period, The Telegraph reports.

The sport’s governing body has been looking at innovative methods to maintain crowd interest in the 50-over format which has seen a steep downfall in fan-following due to the immense popularity of the T20 format. While ODI cricket has gone through a number of modifications ever since the first ever ODI was played between arch-rivals England and Australia in 1971, the proposed changes could have the biggest impact yet. 

The ICC’s biggest headache has been to generate interest in tournaments outside of the global events like the 50-over World Cup and the T20 World Cup, with the bilateral tours between the various member nations holding very little significance, apart from a trophy. 

Dave Richardson, the ICC chief executive, had already the introduction of a Two-tier league system for Test cricket starting from 2019, with the concept of promotion and relegation similar to the lines of various football leagues, the ODI format will also see a league system in place, one in which the 13 teams will play each other, home and away, in a three-match series.

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Points will be attributed depending on the number of wins the teams manage in the 36 ODIs they will be playing over the three-year period, with the two best-placed teams squaring off in the final. Apart from the 10 full member nations of the ICC at present, the likes of Afghanistan, Scotland and Ireland are expected to be frontrunners to complete the quota of teams. 

Similar to the Test system, a second tier known as the World Cricket League Championship featuring the ICC’s associate member nations will also be played during the same three-year period, with the bottom-placed teams from the top tier facing the threat of relegation to the second tier. In addition to the league trophy, the teams’ rankings will also have an impact on their World Cup performance as the position in the league table will be used for seeding for the group stage classification.

According to the ICC, the teams will be free to play each other more times if they so wished, but clarified that the results of such bilateral ties will not be taken into consideration for the league ranking.   

Whether the proposed changes to international cricket will be accepted remains unanswered for now though the wait is a short one as the matter will be discussed in depth at the ICC’s annual conference, which begins in Edinburgh at the end of the month. 

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