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ICC ponders return of timeless Tests

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is considering scrapping time limits for the final of the inaugural world Test championship in 2013, returning cricket to the 1930s in the search for a definitive champion of the sport’s longest format.

A so-called timeless Test places no duration constraints on players, allowing for an open-ended match until a result is secured. Regular tests are limited to five days, but often end in a draw if either team can’t bowl out the other’s batsmen or bad weather intervenes.

Haroon Lorgat, the ICC’s chief executive, made the suggestion on Monday for a competition set to take place in England between the four highest-ranked Test teams in the world.

“It is common knowledge that we hope in 2013 the top four teams will be involved in two semifinals and a final to determine a world Test champion,” Lorgat said. “Whether [drawn games] are decided on a first-innings basis or on runs scored in the game, we don’t know. But they will come up with a viable formula to determine a winner.

“The final may be a timeless Test. At this stage we don’t know, but we are looking into the mechanics.”

The last timeless Test was between South Africa and England at Durban in 1939, However, the match was declared a draw when no result was possible after nine days of play across 12 days. The England players had to leave or they would’ve missed the ship home.

As it was, England’s fourth-innings total of 654-5 is still the record for a first-class match by 50 runs. The Test is also the longest.

“Statistics tell us that most Test matches now produce a result inside five days, but it may yet be a timeless Test,” Lorgat said. “It is a work in progress but I would favour finding a winner because you want a world champion.” — Sapa-AP

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