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Test status safe, dignity at stake

ICC proposes play-off match for IC Cup champions against 10th-ranked Test team

Staff Correspondent

Bangladesh may have been able to prevent their Test status in the recent International Cricket Council meeting in Dubai, but it do not go the way they wanted, according to officials privy to the meeting.
During the meeting, the ICC gave a clear guideline that Bangladesh must improve their performance over the next four years or get ready to contest a play-off Test series against the Intercontinental Cup champions.
The original suggestion was that the bottom-ranked Test nation will have to play against the associate member, crowned with the Interncontinental Cup, in order to globalise the game.
Bangladesh are currently at the bottom of Test rankings behind Zimbabwe, who have 24 rating points against the Tigers’ 18. If Bangladesh cannot overtake them before the next Intercontinental Cup in 2019, the new suggestions mean that they will have to face the ignominy. 
It, however, will not have any impact on the 10th-ranked Test team even if they fail with the home-and-away basis play-off series as the ICC are in favour of dropping the word ‘relegation’ from the proposal at the insistence of Bangladesh. 
The proposal mainly encourages the ICC Associate countries to improve their performance in longer-version cricket, said the officials. The play-off series will open the gate for the winners to be on the pathway to claim the status of the 11th Test playing nation of the ICC.
If the associate member can cross the first hurdle it will provide them with an opportunity to participate against the other Test playing nations and their performance will be monitored, officials added.
If they can come up with satisfactory results against the Full member Test nations then it will help them to put up a stronger voice regarding their Test status claim. At the same time, it will give the bottom-ranked Test side a run for their money, the officials observed. 
After the Dubai meeting, the ICC said in its press release on January 28: ‘There will be an opportunity for all members to play all formats of cricket on merit, with participation based on meritocracy; no immunity to any country, and no change to membership status.’
The ICC guideline is the revised version of a proposal put forward by the so-called ‘Big Three’ - India, Australia and England - who originally wanted the ninth and 10th-ranked Test side to play in the Intercontinental Cup.
Bangladesh had taken a firm position against the proposal, forcing the ‘Big Three’ to make some compromise. 
The revised proposal came at a time when Bangladesh were struggling against Sri Lanka in the first Test that ended in an innings and 248-run defeat, the 16th biggest defeat for any team in Test history. 
An official engaged with the development of Bangladesh cricket for the last 20 years and a keen follower of the latest developments in the ICC told New Age on request of anonymity that time has come to improve the on-field performance instead of paying too much attention on the Test status. 
‘You cannot have a status unless you deserve that or on others’ mercy,’ he said.
‘If we could be more consistent in Tests then all these things will not have any kind of impact on us.
‘But if you cannot start putting up a dominating performance then we will just be a Test nation but never a force to be reckoned with,’ added the veteran organiser.
Bangladesh won only four Test matches in 82 games played so far and was only looking to start showing some authority in 2013 where they won a Test, drawn three and lost two out of six Test matches.

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