The ICC Board has approved a trial of four-day Test matches to run through until the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, in their meeting which concluded in Auckland, New Zealand on Friday 13th. Test Members will be able to schedule four-day games by bilateral agreement between the Cricket Boards.
The playing conditions will now be worked out in the coming weeks which will see Zimbabwe & South Africa playing the first ever 4-day Pink ball Test Match on Boxing Day (Dec 26th-29th), this year-end.
David Richardson said: “Our priority was to develop an international cricket structure that gave context and meaning across international cricket and particularly in the Test arena. This has been delivered and every Test in the new League will be a five-day Test format.
“However throughout the discussions about the future of Test cricket it became clear that whilst context is crucial we must also consider alternatives and trial initiatives that may support the future viability of Test cricket. The trial is exactly that, a trial, just in the same way day-night Tests and technology have been trialled by Members.
“Four-day Tests will also provide the new Test playing countries with more opportunities to play the longer version of the game against more experienced opponents, which, in turn, will help them to hone their skills and close the gap with the top nine ranked teams.”
The move will be beneficial for both Afghanistan & Ireland, who were granted Test Status in June 2017, as both the countries are accustomed to playing 4-day matches in the ICC Intercontinental Cup, which is the longer form of cricket provided by ICC for Associate countries, prior to both getting full membership.
Ireland have already announced their maiden Test match, that will take place in their home country in May 2018 against Pakistan. Whether the match gets played in the traditional 5-day format or the new 4-day format, needs to be seen.
Afghanistan haven’t confirmed any test matches yet, however, there were talks of them playing their maiden test match against Zimbabwe around the year-end.