ICC confirm women's championship launch
Australian batswoman Meg Lannning (right) plays a shot as England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor looks on during the ICC Women's World Twenty20 final match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on April 6, 2014 - by Prakash Singh
Although a Test championship was proposed for the men's game, the ICC abandoned its plan in favour of retaining the one-day Champions Trophy amid broadcasting and scheduling concerns.
But now the ICC has instituted a similar format for the women's game but, significantly, one based on one-day internationals.
A points system will decide the top four teams in the world, with the quartet qualifying automatically for the 2017 World Cup in England.
The next four teams in the table will face six regional qualifiers in a bid to book their World Cup spots.
The first round of the ICC Women's Championship will see reigning world champions Australia face Pakistan on home soil, while three-time winners England at home to India.
Sri Lanka will host South Africa and the West Indies will welcome New Zealand to the Caribbean.
Former England captain Clare Connor, who chairs the ICC women's committee, said: "The ICC Women's Championship is an exciting new initiative that represents a significant step in the continued development of women's cricket.
"The multi-year structure provides regular playing opportunities for the leading women's teams, as well as clear context around bilateral series that provides a competitive pathway into the ICC Women's World Cup 2017."
ICC chief executive David Richardson added: "The ICC Women's Championship provides another fantastic opportunity for women's cricket.
"Following the ICC board's decision to hold a stand-alone ICC Women's World Twenty20 tournament every four years, alternately with the ongoing joint men's and women's ICC World Twenty20, this tournament guarantees both regular playing opportunities and a meritocratic pathway to the ICC Women's World Cup."