Lovers of test cricket face a bleak future with four tests per summer likely to become standard in New Zealand from 2019.

That's dependent on an International Cricket Council initiative to run a test championship getting approval in October.

It's not necessarily locked and loaded that three-test home series will be plonked in a coffin, but the expectation is they will become fewer.

Bangladesh and India are both pencilled in for three-test visits in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 summers, but whether they play out that way remains to be seen.


The West Indies trip here this summer was initially three tests before NZC lopped one off.

It wasn't a case of an extra ODI or two being put in its place. The decision was taken to reduce the West Indies content.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White made it clear a 2-3-3 split (tests, ODIs and T20s) with two incoming series is probably going to become the norm. That's 32 days of international cricket each summer, spread over two tours.

That would be a blow for the oldest form of the international game, and for fans who have little time for the limited-over formats.

Part of the problem is test cricket in New Zealand is an expensive exercise. This season the four tests will top and tail the international summer. In between, it's all short form.

"It's fair to say test match cricket costs, and funding is becoming increasingly challenging, no doubt about that," White said.

"That's a reason for having the new test match competition, but also for innovation of things like day/night tests. They (ICC) want to draw more crowds and make it more viable."

Slim test pickings will be nothing new in New Zealand. Last summer, there were seven tests at home - two each against Pakistan and Bangladesh and three against South Africa from November to late March - but that was unusual.


In 2015-16, there were four tests at home; that followed two the previous summer, although that was mitigated by co-hosting the World Cup.

There were six in 2009-10, five the previous summer and don't forget 1997-98 when the only home tests were a brace against Zimbabwe, who were probably in their healthiest state, in terms of quality cricketers, around that time.

The ICC plan is that two tests in every series will count for ranking points. So an Ashes series, or India against Australia, invariably five and four tests respectively every couple of years, will stay the same length but only two of them will have points riding on them.

If that sounds odd, put it down to an attempt by the ICC to make the championship concept work.

Expect a plethora of limited-overs internationals in 2018-19, too.

There are 13 ODIs and 10 T20s in the coming summer. That's with an eye on the 2019 World Cup, White saying it was designed to give coach Mike Hesson and captain Kane Williamson a lengthy lead-in to get their thinking on World Cup selections in place.

That seems excessive in the coming season, given there will still be about 15 months until the cup from the end of this summer.