The ICC advocate a World Test Championship for all the Test nations, and the finals are pencilled in for 2017. Since the announcement of such a competition, I've been working overtime to see how Ireland could be fitted in, and I think I may have found it. If Ireland were included, there would be eleven teams, each playing each other in one three-Test WTC series. Five of these series would be at home, and five away. Spread over four years, this would give each nation thirty WTC matches before the semis and finals.
It sounds like an awfully simple solution, doesn't it? Each nation would be guaranteed to play thirty Tests in the four year period, which would mean that everyone would get a fair crack of the whip. At the same time, there would be plenty of time in the new programme for non-WTC Test series to be scheduled, like the Ashes. And what would happen at the end of the four years if Ireland or even Bangladesh finish bottom of the table, and people question their place in the circuit? Well, how about simultaneously with the finals series, a three-match playoff is held by the bottom placed finisher in the WTC and the winner of the Intercontinental Cup? This would give the Associates a target to push for, and a merit-based qualification for Test status, at the same time as giving the lowliest Full Member the opportunity to show that they are still worthy of their elevated status.
Such a system would have the right combination of structure, in that the five home and five away series would all be scheduled for specific two-month windows, and freedom, in that there would be plenty of non-WTC time for the cricket boards to schedule series that they want to play more of. And it could work well also with an expanded Intercontinental Cup, perhaps consisting of Nepal, Hong Kong, Uganda and Italy alongside the seven sides left once Ireland obtain their promotion. Suddenly, a team like Afghanistan know that they could tangibly aim for Test status by 2017, or 2021. It would create a very real pathway from the bottom to the top.
But alas, by thoughts do not answer the age old question: "Does the BCCI like it?"