Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, has suggested that the final of the inaugural World Test Championship, which will be held in England in 2013, could be a 'timeless' Test.
Lorgat said that a prestigious event like the first-ever Test Championship final deserved a clear winner. It is why the 'timeless' Test - a match that only ends when one team wins outright - is one of the options being considered by the ICC's think-tank led by general manager and former South African wicketkeeper Dave Richardson.
The latest ICC Future Tours Programme (FTP) comprises a Test league running over four years with the top four teams at the end of each period qualifying for a play-off event. The first play-off is scheduled for 2013, the same year England are due to host the Ashes, and Lord's is the favoured venue for the final. The biggest hurdle the organisers face is a Test that is drawn over a conventional five days of play.
Lorgat said that finding an eventual solution to a draw was still a "work in progress". At a press conference at Lord's Lorgat said: "We've still got to decide how we determine a winner in case of a draw or if the draw will be the end result. I would favour a winner because you want somebody to be a Test champion.
"That is what Dave Richardson and the committee is currently on working on because it is not a good idea to end up with a drawn Test match," Lorgat said. "You have got to determine a winner - whether it is on the first-innings basis, or the runs [scored] in the game - they will come up with a viable formula to determine a winner in case of a drawn Test match. The final may well be a 'timeless' Test. We don't know that yet but we are looking into the mechanics of that. Although looking at the statistics today most of the games have ended in results."
Lorgat said the discussions aimed at settling the issue are ongoing and that he is personally eager that an option is found "before the end of the year".
The 2011 Lord's Test may have been sold out for the first four days but the sparse crowds witnessed during the twin Test series in the Caribbean involving Pakistan and India have brought back the question of overall viability of Test cricket in most parts of the world.
Lorgat was stubborn in his defence of the game and said that the format is not an issue of concern but the general lack of context in Test cricket is. "Bilateral series will have a lot more meaning if you are aspiring or playing towards something at the end. It is what the Test Championship aims to be."
In the past, Lorgat said, ODIs were always promoted in a much more meaningful way than Test cricket and it was one reason the value of one-day cricket had increased in comparison to Tests. "I'm confident that as we produce context in a Championship for Test cricket and we get better contests, as we have seen in the last few series, you will get back the interest and then see what the World Test Championships can do for us. People back winners when they see challenging matches."
According to Lorgat, top cricketing nations have displayed an aggressive brand of Test cricket because, he believes, of their aspiration to be at the top tier of the ICC's rankings. "Already we can see the amount of interest there is on the rankings table. If we look at the moment, between South Africa, England, Sri Lanka, Australia and India, one of those teams would fall out of the top-four.