International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat has hinted England could play host to an inaugural Test championship in 2013.
The ICC, cricket's governing body, have been weighing up the possibility of introducing a Test championship as they seek to revive interest in the five-day game following the rise of the Twenty20 format.
A sub-committee had been tasked with investigating the idea and Lorgat revealed on Friday that the ICC were looking into the possibility of staging a Test championship instead of the 2013 Champions Trophy, which England is due to host.
"There's real talk of a Test play-off in the not too distant future around 2012 or 2013," Lorgat told Radio Five Live Extra.
"There's a slot in 2013 that we think could work, where they would take the existing rankings table and the top four would progress into a semi-final and final.
"We have an open mind, we will structure the formats and events correctly so we are not sitting with the mindset that this is not negotiable.
"If that (the Champions Trophy) has to be replaced by the Test championship final, then so be it."
The sub-committee, which is made up of the governing body's general manager for cricket Dave Richardson and five member nation chief executives, presented a discussion paper to the ICC board at their meeting in Singapore last month.
And, while Lorgat admits a final proposal is still some way off, he believes the concept is closer to reality than it has ever been.
"There's a lot of work that has been done. It's not straightforward and I think we will see in the not too distant future some proposal on the table," he added.
"The best way for me to describe it is a work in progress. There's a lot of good work that has been done.
"They've now been tasked with putting together a firmer proposal at the next chief executive's committee meeting. I'm in encouraged with the progress we've made.
"I'm a lot more confident now. When I first got involved it was a foreign concept.
"I'm confident when I see a lot more of the full members are beginning to see the need for context and the need for generating more interest in Test cricket."