ICC chief’s league plan raises Nepal’s Test hopes

- Ritesh Rijal, Kathmandu

Jun 3, 2016-

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has raised hopes for its associate members like Nepal of playing Test, with its top official dropping a hint of running a league system for the five-day format of the game by the end of 2019.

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson on Wednesday floated the idea of two-tier league system for Test in three years in a bid to improve standards in the longest form of the game. He offered the prospect of Test status to the likes of Nepal, Ireland and Afghanistan, but warned more established nations—notably West Indies—that they could find themselves playing Division-II cricket if they failed to improve their Test form. “If we really want Test cricket to survive, we can’t have the number of Test teams diminishing. We have to create a proper competition structure which provides promotion and relegation and opportunities to get to the top,” said Richardson during a promotion event of the 2017 Champions Trophy.

The ICC chief’s comments have been received here with cautious optimism.

Former President of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) Binay Raj Pandey reacted to the ICC chief’s proposal as “positive”, which if materialises will immensely benefit nations like Nepal. “If the plan comes into effect, countries like Nepal will be at the receiving end of heavy funding,” said Pandey.

Binod Das, coach and former national team skipper, echoed Pandey, saying should the plan go ahead, it would be a big opportunity for countries like Nepal to actually play the Test cricket in future. “It’s a plan not specifically targeted for Nepal but countries like ours. Nevertheless, we’ve got to be prepared for the challenge,” Das said.

However, limited facilities and resources, together with shambolic state of the CAN means Nepal faces a big challenge to compete for a place in the cricket’s elite club.  “Nepal first needs to keep their house in order and ensure that a proper structure for playing longer format of the game is in place to reap rich rewards. You cannot think of playing longer format given the lack of regular 50-over tournament itself,” said Pandey, indicating at the internal wrangling in the CAN.

While details of the plan remain open to debate, Richardson hopes the ICC executive board will give its nod to the plan at the end of this month. He has proposed the two-tier league with seven teams in the top division and a second division of five teams.

The winners of the second division will replace the worst performing side in the upper division in each two-year cycle. However, there is a possibility that a second team could be promoted if the ICC embraced a playoff model under which the sixth team will be playing Division-I, with the second team competing in Division-II.


Published: 03-06-2016 08:55

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