DUBAI // The International Cricket Council (ICC) yesterday announced significant increases to the prize money on offer in Test cricket, as they attempt to maintain the longest format as the pinnacle of the sport.
At an executive board meeting in their Dubai Sports City headquarters, the governing body agreed to substantially inflated incentives for the years leading up to the first world Test championship, which is scheduled for 2017.
A total of US$3.8 million (Dh14m) will be shared between the top four sides in the ICC rankings on April 1, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The No 1 side will receive $500,000 by 2015, marking a vast increase on the $175,000 currently offered to the top side annually.
"It is good that Test cricket gets a boost at a time when it is enjoying increased popularity," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said.
"There have been some fantastic series that have been going on, and I think this will provide an added incentive for those players who value Test match cricket."
Test cricket's appeal has been threatening by the emergence of Twenty20 cricket in recent times, while India's success in the World Cup last year also breathed life into the 50 over format.
The ICC hope their new fund will ensure international cricketers are remunerated for success in the longest format, at a time when substantial riches are on offer in the shorter versions of the game.
"It is meant to be a form of incentive for promoting Test match cricket," Lorgat said. "I am confident the boards will certainly bear that in mind. Some might double the prize money, who knows?"
In a bid to improve the playing standards among the lesser Test nations, as well as the leading Associate sides, the ruling body approved an initial $12m performance programme fund.
"The aim is to support any members that qualify [for help from the programme] as we seek to increase the number of competitive teams at international level," Lorgat said.
After the two day meeting, the board also recommended an alteration in the ICC president's role, reducing its powers and creating a position of chairman. The new role would see the presidency become an "ambassadorial" role on a one-year rotational basis from 2014.