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Ireland coach backs two-tier split of Test cricket nations

Ireland coach Phil Simmons believes a two-tier split of Test-playing nations could be the future.

Former West Indies star Simmons, who joined Ireland as coach in 2007 and has agreed a new deal until the end of next year, believes the Test format must expand and welcome associate nations.

One way that could be achieved would be to split the highest ranked Test sides from the lower ones, increasingly competitiveness along the way.

The Mirror quoted him, as saying: "We don''t know what is going to happen in the next few years where Test cricket is concerned, but all of us believe this goal is a possibility."

He added: "It''s not for us to second guess things but I think something like a two-tier system would be great. It is our job to prepare and if it comes to be ready for it."

Simmons further said: "You could have the top six Test teams and then the bottom four as well as one or two of us (associates) all playing "I think we owe it to cricket to keep expanding because if we keep it as such a small group then it will die."

One of the ICC''s major challenges is to provide new context to Test cricket in a bid to tackle diminishing attendances.

A World Test championship has been discussed but has now been deferred until 2017 at the earliest, and Simmons believes a two-tier system could help provide that context.

"If you add promotion and relegation over a given cycle, then teams have to play hard all the time. You can''t just lose a series and say it is alright. Look at the Premier League, the biggest sports league in the world, where people are always playing for something."

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