ECB back test championshi proposal

The England and Wales Cricket Board are supportive of a world Test championship, in principle. International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat has suggested England and India are the only countries blocking the proposed venture.

However, ECB chiefs have been receptive to such a model for Test cricket for some time - their only concerns being over the mechanism employed.

"We are fully engaged with the ICC over proposals for a world Test championship and are supportive in principle," said an ECB spokesman.

Various models have been put forward in the past and the current format would result in countries playing each other over a four-year cycle, with the highest-placed teams competing for the championship in a one-off final.

Such a qualification process, however, contains some stumbling blocks, primarily the change in strength of teams over such a long period of time.

For example, no one would quibble with the fact England and Australia were the two best Test teams during the epic 2005 Ashes summer but neither could be classed in that bracket now.

A shorter qualification period would therefore provide a better reflection on current form.

But that would be problematic for leading nations such as England, in terms of revenue.

If the championship cycle was shortened, it would run the risk of money-spinning series against Australia, South Africa and India being shortened to accommodate matches against lesser draws such as Bangladesh, New Zealand and West Indies.

While there is global concern for the state of the Test game, it is still thriving in England, where a day's play against top-class opposition is seldom watched by anything other than a full house.

Sponsorship and television income is also based on the big campaigns.

"I would like to convince people that the way to ensure Test cricket survives is through a championship model," Lorgat said. "The only two countries who do not see the argument are India and England, but debate is growing all the time.

"The MCC seem to have come out in favour but when I met the ECB recently it was the wrong time to tackle them in detail. They were too high on the Ashes.

"I don't understand their thinking. The original plan was to have a four-year cycle for the championship, which protects icon series like the Ashes. It was very doable. Our Future Tours Programme will meet soon as the current schedule runs to May 2012.

"I would really like to see the Test championship included from there on."