Cricket's governing body said Thursday it will be exploring options to preserve interest in five-day Tests in the face of the growing popularity of Twenty20 matches.
The options, including proposals to a hold Test championship, will be discussed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) when its board meets in Dubai from June 29, its acting chief executive Dave Richardson said.
Experts say the fast-rising Twenty20 format, with just 40 overs per match and a huge crowd-puller, is putting the future of Tests and 50-over one-day internationals in danger.
Besides two Twenty20 leagues in India -- one backed by the Board of Control for Cricket in Indian and the other by a private group -- Texan billionaire Allen Stanford recently launched his own league pitting an all-star West Indian team against England.
Other countries like Pakistan and Australia are also keen to launch their own T20 leagues.
"I am certainly in favour of looking at options to make sure that we provide a really good quality context for Test cricket to take place so that it can be preserved as the pinnacle of the game," said Richardson.
He and other ICC officials, including president Ray Mali, were here for Wednesday's official launch of the Champions Trophy, which Pakistan will host in September.
"The ICC will be considering a number of options in the upcoming board meetings, one of which is to introduce a Test championship or league. There are so many ways this could be done, a league over one year, two years or four years, the details have yet to be worked out."
Richardson, a former South African wicketkeeper-batsman, admitted Twenty20 is the most popular brand of the game these days.
"There is no doubt that domestic Twenty20 leagues, such as those held in India and other competitions like in South Africa, England and Pakistan have been a fantastic success, they have attracted new audience to the game.
"The ICC's policy has always been to encourage such popular formats but... if you ask any player around the world he would say that he likes to play Test cricket for his country," he said.
Richardson rubbished claims that the ICC is not endeavouring to preserve Test cricket, saying: "The ICC always gives importance to, and is serious to make sure that a special place is maintained for, Test cricket in the calendar."
He refused to admit that 50-over cricket will die after the introduction of Twenty20.
"I think 50-over cricket will benefit from Twenty20, already we have seen that the approach to batting, fielding and bowling (is) going to have to be improved if you want success in Twenty20," he said.
"For me, 50-over cricket will be a perfect balance between Tests and T20," he added.