Ireland to play their first Test in May


There had been some uncertainty, though, as to whether or not the four-day Zimbabwe Test would be considered an official Test match in the eyes of the ICC.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland believes that the World Test Championships from 2019 will not undermine the traditional marquee series like the Ashes.

"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". "I would like to congratulate our Members on reaching this agreement and putting the interests of the development of the game first", he said.

'This means fans around the world can enjoy global cricket knowing every game counts and in the case of the ODI league, it counts towards qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup'. The approval of both leagues is the conclusion of two years of work from the Members who have explored a whole range of options to bring context to every game.

A test championship has always been mooted as a means to make the longest form of the game more relevant for fans who have increasingly turned towards limited-overs matches.

Ireland will play Pakistan at home in May in their first cricket test. "It's all positive. The Ashes will continue to be the biggest Test event that we play, but these matches will have even greater meaning than they do now, if that's possible".

Ireland, the UAE and Scotland were also vying to have the matches played in their countries but Zimbabwe was given the nod after ICC chairman Shashank Manohar visited the country in August.

Bangladesh were initially scheduled to host the event but Asian side have qualified directly to the tournament proper due to their world ranking. It will be contested by the 12 full members plus the winners of the current ICC World Cricket League Championship. However, it'll be changed to a three-year cycle with teams battling it out in eight series - four at home and four away series - with a maximum of three ODIs in one series.

Richardson confirmed: "Starting in 2020 and in that two-year period leading up to the Cricket World Cup in 2023, those 13 teams will play eight series".

The qualifiers will be a 10-team event with the top two sides getting entry into the tournament proper to be held in the United Kingdom in 2019.

The reforms were approved at a meeting of the Council in Auckland on Friday.