London - A new international championship, which will determine qualification for the next Women's World Cup, was announced by the International Cricket Council on Wednesday.
The bilateral competition will involve the top eight ranked women's teams in the world -- including England, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, India and Pakistan.
They will all play the others in a series of matches between mid-2014 to the end of 2016, with the top six qualifying automatically for the 2017 Women's World Cup in England.
Unlike changes to the men's international programme announced on Tuesday, there will be promotion and relegation at the end of the first cycle.
"This is a very positive step for the profile and competitiveness of women's cricket," said ICC chief executive David Richardson, in a statement issued from the governing body's Dubai headquarters on the second and final day of its board meeting on Wednesday.
"The ICC Women's World Cup last year set a new benchmark in terms of quality and public interest and with this added context the pathway to the 2017 event in England looks really exciting," former South Africa wicket-keeper Richardson added.
The bottom countries at the end of the International Women's Championship will be joined by a number of teams from the ICC's regional qualification structures to play in a Women's World Cup qualifier which will determine the final participants.