Players back two-tier Test proposals

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A survey conducted by the Federation of International Cricketers' Association (FICA) has found that 72 per cent of players support the proposed introduction of a two-tier Test system.

Senior officials meet in Dubai this week to discuss radical changes to the sport's schedule, seeking to strike a balance between the protection of international cricket and the growth of domestic Twenty20 leagues.

Among the solutions being discussed are leagues for all formats of the international game and the pooling of television rights, although the proposals are not universally popular.

FICA has called for the ICC to deliver a "clear and compelling" future for international cricket.

FICA executive chairman Tony Irish said: "To date, the issue that has been talked about most is Test cricket, but we believe that this review is about creating clear visions for all three formats of international cricket, and balancing them alongside the continued expansion and success of the various domestic T20 cricket leagues.

"We know from our player surveys, and our engagement with players, that they are facing a conflict between international cricket and domestic T20 cricket leagues.

"This is a fundamental issue that we want any future structure of the game to address.

"Our concern is that if nothing is done, international cricket may very soon lose more and more of its best players to free agency and the T20 leagues."

In addition to the 72 per cent in favour of a two-tier Test system, 70 per cent believe there should be ring-fenced windows in the calendar for certain domestic T20 events, while 75 per cent back a "Test match final/play-off match".

Despite overwhelmingly indicating that Test cricket is the most important format to play in, more than 52 per cent of all international respondents in the current structure also indicated that they would consider rejecting a national contract in favour of free agency in domestic T20 leagues.

"We have already raised our intensity and urgency just knowing that a Test league might happen," said South Africa captain AB De Villiers. "There is nothing like the pressure and adrenaline that comes with knowing you need to win matches.

"It's time for all international matches to have more meaning."

West Indies skipper Jason Holder added: "Creating windows [for domestic T20 tournaments] would make the whole situation a lot easier as players would not be forced to choose.

"If players could play both domestic T20 and international cricket, it would definitely help to keep players in international cricket."

FICA surveyed 193 current professional players from all seven FICA affiliated countries, including 111 internationals.