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There was no formal structure of international cricket until the early twenty-first century. It had long been traditional for countries, without any intervention from a body such as the International Cricket Council (ICC), to organise for themselves the various cricket matches. The ICC later committed the Test cricket playing nations to play each other in a programme of matches over a period of 10 years known as the ICC Future Tours Programme (FTP). This system was set up to encourage some of the better-established countries to play the lesser nations more frequently.
Most Test, One-Day and Twenty20 matches take place in the form of "tours". In a tour, one nation travels to another and plays warm-up matches, first-class matches against domestic teams such as county or state teams, a series of Test matches against the host nation, and either a series of One-Day and Twenty20 matches against the host nation or a tournament involving the host nation and another touring nation. The "triangular tournament" format is often used when one tour is about to conclude and the other has just begun or may include one team only for that tournament. In the tournament, the three teams play each other either two or three times. The two teams with the most points (usually two points for a win, one point for a no-result or tie, and no points for a loss) qualify for the one-game final; the bonus point system is also sometimes used in a triangular tournament, including the Australian Tri-Series and the NatWest Series.
Test series can last from two to six matches. Six-match series were common in the 1970s and early 1980s, with the last six-match series to date taking place in 1997–98 between the West Indies and England. Ashes Test series in England were six-match affairs between 1981 and 1997, but Australia reverted to five matches in its home series from 1982–83. The most important series last four or five matches, while the less important ones last two to three matches. At most, a perpetual trophy is awarded to the winning team, or to both teams in the case of a drawn series.
- The Ashes (for England versus Australia) is the most famous perpetual trophy. Other perpetual trophies include:
- Frank Worrell Trophy (Australia–West Indies)
- Trans-Tasman Trophy (Australia–New Zealand Test series)
- Chappell–Hadlee Trophy (Australia–New Zealand ODI series)
- Border-Gavaskar Trophy (Australia–India)
- Wisden Trophy (England–West Indies)
- Warne-Muralidaran Trophy (Australia–Sri Lanka)
- Basil D'Oliveira Trophy (England–South Africa)
- Pataudi Trophy (England–India)
- Freedom Trophy (India–South Africa)
The One-day series lasts from three to seven matches. Usually, the shorter one-day series are played at the same time as longer Test series – although the one-day matches and Test matches are usually played in groups. These days, it is rare that a Test series is interrupted by One Day Internationals. T20 Series last from one to three matches.
In addition to tours, nations may organise one-day matches at neutral venues. The Sahara Cup was a one-day series played annually between India and Pakistan in Toronto, until the Indian government ordered the suspension of all cricketing ties with Pakistan, which were revived in 2004. Similarly, a semiannual Triangular Tournament was organised at Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates. However, the tournament has lost its lustre because the overwhelming number of cricket matches has spoiled the pitch.
In contrast to the one-dayers, Tests are almost never held in neutral venues. A once-off triangular Test tournament was held in England in 1912, which saw South Africa play Australia in three tests at neutral venues, but otherwise it has only been security risks which have seen Tests played on neutral soil. Most notably, Pakistan has "hosted" Test series in England, the UAE and Sri Lanka in the 21st century. Security implications have also affected tours to Sri Lanka and tours to Zimbabwe in the past.
In addition to the one-day series and tournaments organised by the nations themselves, the ICC organises two One Day International tournaments. The World Cup is held every four years; it involves all the Test-playing nations and a number of teams advancing from the immediately preceding ICC World Cup Qualifier. The ICC Champions Trophy, previously known as the ICC Knockout Cup, is a shorter tournament held every four years in between World Cups. The ICC also organises a T20 International tournament, the ICC World Twenty20, which is generally held every two years and, as in the latest competition, involves the ten full ICC members and six associate members who qualified through a qualifier competition, the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier.
ICC Main events won by the respective team
|Country/Team||ICC Cricket World Cup||ICC Champions Trophy||ICC World T20||Total|
Total no. of ICC main events played so far :
ICC Future Tours Programme
Back in 2001 the ICC decided to create a plan designed to make all ICC full member countries play each other for Test cricket over a period of ten years (known as the ICC Ten Year Plan). This was approved in February 2001 by the ICC member countries. Starting from 2002 and running until 2011, it ensured that each Test country played the other nine home and away over a period of ten years, in addition to any matches the individual cricket boards organised on their own. Thus, India and Pakistan played 12 ODIs and 6 Tests against each other in their respective countries (not including neutral ground ODI tournaments such as the Asia Cup) from 2004 to April 2005, and played a further series of 3 Tests and 5 ODIs in the winter of 2006. However, because of the rigorous schedule of the Ten Year Plan, there was hardly any time left over to schedule other series, and there were voices criticising the amount of international cricket that is played, with the risk of injury and player burnout as reasons for why this amount should be reduced. The ICC defended their policy, citing the number of international players in English county cricket as a sign that there was not too much cricket for the players.
Despite criticism of its original Ten Year Plan, the ICC created an ICC Future Tours Programme (or FTP for short). In the same way as for the Ten Year Plan, this is a schedule of international cricket tours which structure the programme of cricket for ICC full members, with an objective of each team playing each other at least once at home and once away over a period of 10 years. If the cricket boards of two individual countries reach an agreement, they can play more than two series. If a team doesn’t want to travel to a particular country for a bilateral series due to security reasons, then, by the mutual agreement of the respective boards, that series can be shifted to a neutral venue such as United Arab Emirates or any other country where the facilities are good. Recently, the Pakistan Cricket Team has played a lot of their home bilateral series on Emirates soil.
ICC International Rankings
The ICC Test Team Rankings are an international ranking system run by the ICC for the 10 teams that play Test cricket. This is simply a ranking scheme overlaid on all international matches that are otherwise played as part of regular Test cricket scheduling, with no consideration of home or away status.
In essence, after every Test series, the two teams involved receive points based on a mathematical formula. The total of each team's points total is divided by the total number of matches to give a 'rating', and the Test-playing teams are ranked by order of rating (this can be shown in a table).
The ICC ODI Team Rankings were created, and are run, by the ICC for reasons similar to the Test Rankings. The rankings are simply an international ranking scheme overlaid on the regular ODI (One Day International) match schedule. After every ODI match, the two teams involved receive points based on a mathematical formula. The total of each team's points total is divided by the total number of matches to give a rating, and all teams are ranked on a table in order of rating. The ranking does not replace the World Cup; the latter still carries much more significance to most cricket fans.
The ranking consists of two separate tables. The ten ICC Full Members that play Test cricket are automatically listed on the main table. The six Associate Members with One Day International status are listed on a secondary table, but are eligible for promotion to the main table by meeting certain criteria.
As with the Test and ODI Rankings, the ICC T20I Team Rankings are an international Twenty20 ranking system run by the ICC. It is simply a ranking scheme overlaid on the regular T20I match schedule. After every T20I match, the two teams involved receive points based on a mathematical formula. The total of each team's points total is divided by the total number of matches to give a rating, and all teams are ranked on a table in order of rating. This ranking does not replace the ICC World Twenty20 competition.
ICC World Cricket League
The ICC WCL (known as the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League for sponsorship reasons) is a series of international one-day cricket tournaments for national teams without Test status, administered by the ICC. All associate and affiliate members of the ICC are eligible to compete in the league system, which features a promotion and relegation structure between divisions. The league system has two main aims: to provide a qualification system for the World Cup that can be accessed by all associate and affiliate members, and as an opportunity for these sides to play international one-day matches against teams of similar standards.
- Test cricket
- One Day International
- Twenty20 International
- World Cricket League
- ICC Future Tours Programme
- List of International Cricket Council members
- ICC Awards
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