ICC's latest extended Future Tours Program sees Test’s newest entrants Afghanistan playing a Test against Australia in Australia in 2020. Afghanistan made their Test debut against India recently.
Afghanistan will play one Test in Australia prior to India’s four-Test tour in the summer of 2020-21.
The new FTP also shares new concepts of a nine-team Test Championship and a One-Day League structure that will cap the number of 50-over internationals played in between World Cups. The Test championship begins with Australia’s Ashes campaign in the UK next year and it won’t see Tests involving both the new Test debutants and troubled Zimbabwe.
Remaining nine nations will get points under a yet-to-be-finalized methodology from each Test they play until mid-2021 when the two top-ranked teams will play-off for the Championship title at a venue to be decided.
The first final is expected to be played in July 2021 and the most likely venue is Lord’s, London, England.
The FTP covers scheduling for the next five-year playing cycle through until 2023, with nations in the Test Championship contesting six series (home and away) within each two-year period, while the ODI League will see teams play eight three-match series in its initial competition from 2020-22.
This introduction of ODI Championship sees all the bilateral series between two nations restricted to three match events during the qualifying period. The top eight ranked teams will be awarded automatic qualification for the ICC World Cup.
Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland confirmed today that while the ICC will exercise stricter oversight on the scheduling of Test series as part of the Championship proposal, nations will retain the right to decide how long those series will run and where individual Tests will be held.
"For both Test cricket and one-day cricket going forward, we won’t have a choice about who we play – that will be determined by the cycle and will be done by the ICC," Sutherland said.
The FTP confirms that Australia will retain the right to host their flagship Boxing Day Test for at least the next five years.
"Being a new concept and the Test match play-off being a one-off (standalone game), we've agreed that the best timing for the Championship play-off in the first instance is going to be in that July period," he said. "But we would like the idea – particularly if Australia was to qualify for the final – to host that match in Australia.”
Australia will tour Bangladesh in 2020. The first iteration of the ODI League will begin from May 1, 2020, and be played out over two years, then after the 2023 World Cup, it will adopt its proposed three-year cycle.
The ICC will decide the draw for ODI matches within each qualifying period, with the scheduling based on current global ranking status in an attempt to ensure nations aren't fixtured to play only high or low-ranked opponents.
"The top seven teams (plus the host nation) will automatically qualify for the next World Cup, and the five teams that don't automatically qualify will go into a type of repechage qualifying event," Sutherland said.
He continued, “Those top eight teams that earn direct qualification can then fixture their own bilateral one-day cricket in the year prior each World Cup, as part of their preparations. So the only possibility of an ODI series of less or more than three matches would be in that fourth year of the cycle leading into a World Cup when those who have automatically qualified can play their own bilateral cricket."
T20I scheduling will be domains of respective boards through bilateral or multi-team arrangements. The next World T20 is scheduled to be played in Australia in 2020- during February-March for the women’s tournament, and October-November for men’s competition.
(with inputs from cricket.com.au)