What’s the story?
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) put its foot down and firmly opposed the ICC’s proposed World Test Championship that was tentatively scheduled to begin in 2019. ICC’s efforts to call for a two-day working group meeting to discuss the structure for the Championship met a brick wall when the BCCI categorically displayed its disapproval.
"How can a nine-plus-three structure be proposed in the first place when the ICC Board is yet to ratify Ireland and Afghanistan's full membership status? They (certain ICC board members) are just trying to test the waters and gauge the mood of members. In the process, they're still thinking that a "weak" BCCI may not resist," a BCCI source said while speaking to the Times of India.
The World Test Championship falls into the larger scheme of cricket’s governing body’s efforts to provide context to Test matches. It has been widely believed in the upper echelons of the game that bilateral series’ simply do not provide enough context and that an alternate solution is needed.
Earlier, in September, ICC were forced to shelve plans for a two-division Test Championship when it met resistance from parties including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and India. The new World Test Championship arose from the fallout as an alternative.
The proposed championship will see a nine-plus-three structure with teams playing each other in a four-year cycle and the cutoff date for qualification set for 2019. As is clear from the BCCI source’s quotes, a key sticking point is how the ICC will allow countries like Afghanistan, who have not been given full Test membership yet, a chance to play in the championship.
While this is just one of the sticking points, the larger problem is that the BCCI and ICC are engaged in a heavy power battle regarding a number of key issues at the moment with both parties unwilling to yield an inch whatsoever.
In February 2017, the game’s governing body proposed a sweeping range of changes to the game. Most importantly, it will see a shift from the existing revenue-sharing model that sees the ‘Big 3’ – India, Australia, and England get a lion share of the revenues.
The next key date is in April when ICC’s Chief Executive Meeting is set to take place. BCCI are confident that they will be in a strong position to oppose all the changes via a vote count at that point.
BCCI has made clear that they are not in favour of any remodeling to the existing Test calendar through their opposition of the two-division Test Championship and now, the World Test Championship.
The larger issue remains to be the remodeling of the existing revenue structure. If the BCCI has its way and manages to retain a lion share of the revenue, one might see them ease their stance on the Test Championship.