End of Test cricket as we know it: Ashes to usher in new era
THE 2019 Ashes will signal the start of a new era in cricket, kickstarting a nine-team Test Championship.
The International Cricket Council confirmed last week that the long mooted Test Championship would begin next year, and on Tuesday Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland revealed the Ashes would be the tournament's first series.
The Test Championship puts the top nine teams in the world in a single league, with countries picking up points to qualify for a biennial final.
The tournament is intended to breathe new life into the five-day game, giving it the context enjoyed by franchise Twenty20 cricket.
The ICC has committed to the concept for at least two two-year cycles, with plans to begin a one-day international league in 2020.
"This summer is actually the last season of future tours cricket as we know it, in that we move to the Test Champsionship," Sutherland told Gerard Whateley on SEN Radio.
"The Ashes in July 2019 will be the first series of the new Test Championship."
Sutherland is hopeful the Championship format will give home countries more power when it comes to setting the terms of a series, in the wake of India's resistance to playing a day-night Test this summer.
"We are hoping there will be some sort of regulation that allows home teams to fixture at least one day-night Test match," he said.
The CA boss believes India's stubbornness to play under lights is due to their fears of Australia's prowess with the pink ball.
"To be frank, I think they want to come out here and beat us," he said.
"There's a sense, or a reality, that Australia has won each of the pink-ball Test matches that have been played in Australia and there may be a sense that it gives us a bit of an advantage."
Zimbabwe, Ireland and Afghanistan are the three Test teams that will not be involved in the Championship.