India mulling day-night format for Test tourney

New Delhi: There is a possibility that the ICC Test championship, to be inaugurated in 2017, will see day-night Test cricket especially in the India edition of 2021.

“Keeping in mind the viewers’ interest as also the broadcasters’, the World Test Championship matches could begin in the afternoon especially the one in India. There is a majority agreement for daynight Tests. It is replacing Champions Trophy, a 50-over format and it is imperative they bring in changes to suit broadcasters’ and viewers’ demands,” said a senior board official.

The playing conditions and format are yet to be finalised - it’ll be done during the CEC meeting in September and put forward in ICC board meeting in October for final approval - and there has been a lot of debate over it.

“I am very curious to know how they will go about holding World Test Championship. I am not able to understand the concept. How will it materialise? I’d like to wait and see,” said former India cricketer Maninder Singh.

There has been talk about restricting the tournament to a few top teams and keeping it within a limited time period to ensure that it is attractive. The Indian board has found bilateral series more profitable as a World Championship entails sharing of revenues among all boards. In fact, BCCI had shot down a similar ICC proposal - to organise Test cricket around the four-year Test championship cycle - more than four years ago.

The official added, “Playing it like any limited-over tournament where there are group stages first can be a long-drawn process as these are five-day games. And if they decide to play only the top four teams, then, what if India don’t qualify in that top four. It can suffer the fate of 2007 50-over World Cup in the West Indies. It’s going to be a tricky issue.”

The ICC had sold the TV rights for all its events from 2007-2015 to ESPN Star reportedly for $1.1 billion. Incidentally, like in this eight-year period (2015-2023), the previous eightyear period too had 18 ICC events. However, instead of the 50-over Champions Trophy tournaments, there will be the Test Championship.

“After the 2015 World Cup in Australia, the rights will be sold again for the next eight-year period,” said an official.