Cricket: Two-tier Test plan axed after India-led backlash

 Indian cricket board president Anurag Thakur said that the two-tier Test system proposal was axed by the ICC, on Sept 8, 2016.
Indian cricket board president Anurag Thakur said that the two-tier Test system proposal was axed by the ICC, on Sept 8, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

New Delhi (AFP) - Controversial plans to create a two-tier Test system have been scrapped by cricket's world governing body after the powerful Indian board led a backlash, senior officials said on Thursday.

The proposal for a de facto premier league featuring the top seven sides had been welcomed by players and was one of the main agenda items at an International Cricket Council meeting in Dubai which ended on Wednesday.

While the ICC said "significant progress" was made in discussions on "the future shape of all international cricket", both the Indian and Bangladeshi boards confirmed the two-division proposal had been ditched.

"The officials at the meeting shot down the two-tier proposal," Anurag Thakur, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), told AFP.

"The BCCI could have benefited financially from the two-tier system but morally we wanted to stand with the countries which would have been badly affected."

His Bangladeshi counterpart Nazmul Hassan confirmed the plan had been taken off the table.

"It's good news for us," said Hassan, whose board had been fiercely critical of the plan which would have effectively deprived Bangladesh of the opportunity to play major Test teams.

"India and Sri Lanka were also with us, so we were more or less confident that it would not be approved. We are delighted to know that ICC has now informed us of this officially," he told AFP.

Under the proposed revamp, designed to boost waning interest in Tests, the seven highest-ranked teams would have formed a top division.

The other three lowest-ranked sides - currently the West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe - would have joined a second division also including the likes of Afghanistan and Ireland.

Although England, Australia and New Zealand were in favour, Thakur made his organisation's opposition public last month, effectively rendering it dead in the water.

India, the game's financial powerhouse, has a history of ensuring its stance prevails on key debates within the global body.