Promotion and relegation could be introduced to test cricket within three years.
There are plans by the International Cricket Council to push to split the test game into two divisions to give, in chief executive Dave Richardson's words, "meaning and context" to help it survive.
Added into that, there are plans to add more test nations to the existing 10 - England, Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Richardson raised the prospect of countries such as Ireland, Afghanistan and Nepal attaining test status, potentially within the next few weeks, while at the same time warning teams like the West Indies that if they don't buck up their test game, they'd risk finding themselves in the second division.
The Windies were spectacular winners of the world T20 in India in March, but are ranked a lowly eighth in the test standings.
"There's a general realisation now that, if we're going to keep test cricket going well into the future, we can't just say it's going to survive on its own," Richardson said.
"Unless we can give some meaning to these series beyond the rankings and a trophy, then interest in test cricket will continue to waiver. The same applies if we allow uncompetitive test cricket to take place too often."
Richardson said the number of test countries cannot drop but "we have to create a proper competition structure which provides promotion and relegation and opportunities to get to the top.
"The beauty of leagues is that, in theory, you will have a more competitive competition and teams playing each other that are of a more equal standard.
"They will all be striving for something. There's something at stake. Hopefully that will inspire performance and make the matches more competitive."
New Zealand are currently ranked fifth in test cricket, behind Australia, India, Pakistan and England.
Richardson also confirmed plans to stage an extra world T20 tournament in 2018, likely to involve "a minimum" of 16 teams and to be staged in either South Africa, Sri Lanka or the United Arab Emirates. The final decision will be made by the ICC's broadcasting partner Star.