sport

MCC still behind Test championship

The MCC World Cricket Committee has called on the International Cricket Council to press ahead with plans for a Test championship.

At present, the governing body's future tours programme includes a window for the inaugural edition of the proposed tournament in 2017, with England as hosts.

But such a championship - which was conceived to give added context and meaning to the Test rankings - has a troubled history, having already been pushed back once.

It was initially due to take place in 2013, but commercial reasons saw a final Champions Trophy one-day tournament take place in its stead.

Now reports have emerged that with sponsors and international broadcasters still cool on the Test Championship, the Champions Trophy may continue to take up the space in the calendar.

But the MCC Cricket Committee, an independent group of the game's leading figures, insists that would be a bad decision.

The committee prefers the present plans for the four top-ranked Test sides to contest the championship, but argues that even a reduction to two would be acceptable.

A statement released on behalf of the group, which is chaired by former England captain Mike Brearley and includes the likes of Andrew Strauss, Michael Vaughan, Rahul Dravid and Steve Waugh, read: "The committee is a strong supporter of the proposed World Test Championship, and urges the International Cricket Council to ensure that such a tournament - or at least a final - takes place in 2017 and beyond.

"Since its creation in 2006, the WCC have stated that everything possible should be done to promote and protect Test cricket, which it believes is the ultimate form of the game.

"The committee understands the commercial sensitivities and logistical issues surrounding the proposed World Test Championship, but feels that a solution must be found.

"Whilst the committee would ultimately like to see the currently proposed four-team knockout competition proceed, it believes that a scaled-down version involving the top two teams in either a one-off Test Final or Test Series would still provide a context that the longest form of the game currently lacks in comparison to ODI and T20 cricket.

"The committee would like to end the uncertainty for everyone in the game by pressing ahead with a WTC in 2017, as announced, and believes that Test cricket could suffer if the concept was dropped."

Among other recommendations, the group also called for greater funding for the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit.

The body currently oversees international cricket but, with domestic Twenty20 competitions a rich market for betting syndicates, their expertise may be required there too.

"The MCC World Cricket committee believes that corruption in the sport is being successfully combated at international level, but that the risk of corruption in global domestic T20 tournaments poses the biggest threat to the game's health," the statement continued.

"The committee would like to see a system whereby it would become a requirement for global T20 tournaments to sign up to a set of minimum anti-corruption standards provided by the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) in order for the game's governing body to sanction a tournament.

"Currently no such system exists and, with limited resources, the ACSU cannot oversee all territories and all competitions. The committee believes that the ACSU requires more resources and hopes that ICC, through its member countries, agree to an increase in funding for this important body, who are doing some excellent work to combat corruption in the game."