ICC meeting sees Ireland move closer to Test cricket status

Ireland may be given Test cricket status in April as part of a plan by the International Cricket Council.

While the ICC has kept details of its proposals to a minimum, Ireland and Afghanistan have been given hope of attaining full member status subject to meeting the criteria.

The council has confirmed radical plans to introduce leagues to Tests and one-dayers, but its hopes of phasing out the controversial 'Big Three' model has been met with resistance from the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

In an effort to give international cricket significant structure, a meeting of the ICC's chief executives' committee in Dubai has yielded an agreement to put forward plans for a nine-team Test league to run over a two-year period from 2019.

A 13-team ODI league over a three-year cycle and a regional Twenty20 competition structure - both acting as qualifying mechanisms for the World Cup and World T20 - have also been included in the proposals, which will be put to the ICC board to be ratified at its next meeting in April.

Ireland and Afghanistan, along with Zimbabwe, would probably not initially feature in the league system - involving the top nine Test-playing nations - but would be guaranteed a 'consistent and confirmed schedule' of Test matches.

ICC chief executive Dave Richardson said: "The ICC chief executives' committee has explored a whole range of solutions to the future structure of bilateral cricket ranging from the status quo to two-tier leagues and every possible option in between.

"The model the group has agreed on enables us to provide context for all three formats of the game, and, in the case of the ODI and T20 solutions, the approach goes beyond the full members and aligns bilateral cricket with qualification for ICC events."

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