Indian authorities could be set to derail a plan to introduce a two-tier system that has the potential to revolutionise and revitalise Test cricket.
The concept, which would operate over a two-year period with a relegation and promotion system with seven nations in each, has previously won the support of authorities in Australia, New Zealand, England.
However the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India have confirmed they will stand against the idea as they look to “protect the interests” of smaller nations.
“The BCCI is against the two-tier system because the smaller countries will lose out and the BCCI wants to take care of them,” president Anurag Thakur told the New Indian Express.
“In the two-tier Test system, they will lose out a lot, including revenue and the chance to play against the top teams.”
It’s believed India’s move has come about as part of an Asian block, which has also seen Sri Lanka and Bangladesh voice their opposition to the idea.
Given each team’s lowly Test ranking, it is likely they could both be dropped to the bottom tier.
Australia, England and New Zealand are behind the initiative, aimed at fixing dwindling crowds across the five-day format.
Cricket Australia chairman David Peever pushed the case for the revamp at an official banquet in Galle to mark Australia’s tour of the subcontinent island nation.
“There is no better community of people than the cricket community. But I have to say I think in terms of responsibility and the place that cricket needs to hold globally today and tomorrow,” Peever said.
“I do respect traditions but am conscious of not loving them at the expense of progress. Progress and tradition, in our view, need to have at least equal weighting.
“Cricket is the people’s game. Without fans it would have little value or relevance. Fans provide the money for us to sustain the game, to invest in the pathways, to help us support the grass roots.
“We have to always be guided by what they want, but also continuing to stay ahead of the curve and keep the game relevant, in all parts of our society. We need to continue to be a sport of choice for all, men women, boys and girls and girls of all backgrounds all over the world.”
On announcing the proposed changes, ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson said there was a need to engender Test cricket with “some meaning to these series beyond the (current ICC) rankings and a trophy”.
“If we really want Test cricket to survive, we can’t have the number of Test teams diminishing,” Richardson said at the launch of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy ODI tournament in London.
“We have to create a proper competition structure which provides promotion and relegation and opportunities to get to the top.
“We could probably make it work in 2019 because hopefully whatever we implement will be better than the current arrangement.
“It’s the sooner the better as far as we’re concerned.
“We might need to have some negotiations with broadcasters who have deals in place, but they might be willing to change.
“This is a marvellous opportunity for the game.”