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Tennis chiefs have hailed radical plans to overhaul the Davis Cup and cram a year-long competition into a single week at the end of the season as “a complete game-changer”. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has unanimously endorsed the proposals, which would see the winners determined in a World Cup of Tennis and could start as soon as November next year. The shake-up includes increased prize money funded by a $3bn deal with Kosmos, an investment group fronted by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique and backed by Rakuten chairman Hiroshi Mikitani. “This is a complete game-changer for the ITF and for tennis,” said ITF president David Haggerty. “Our vision is to create a major season-ending finale that will be a festival of tennis and entertainment, featuring the world’s greatest players representing their nations to decide the Davis Cup champions.” The vision could be rubber-stamped at the ITF’s AGM in August and is a response to concerns about the dwindling profile of the Davis Cup. All 16 teams in top two tiers of the Davis Cup would qualify for the World Cup of Tennis Finals – plus two more nations to be selected. The competition below the top two tiers would continue in its current format throughout the year. Great Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith, who helped them to the trophy in 2015, gave the plans a cautious welcome. “One of the first things that came to mind is the loss of the home and away tie. It works in other sports but remains to be seen if it could work in Davis Cup,” said Smith. “However, I do think it’s really positive that the ITF is looking at significant investment from other sources to secure the future of the competition.”

England have retained their all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson as vice-captain ahead of returning all-rounder Ben Stokes for their upcoming two-match Test series in New Zealand.

Stokes was appointed England’s Test vice-captain last year but was replaced by Anderson for this winter’s Ashes after he was suspended due to his alleged involvement in an altercation outside a Bristol nightclub in September.

The 26-year-old is back in the England fold for the New Zealand series after his suspension was lifted once he was charged with affray but he has not been asked to resume the vice-captaincy, with veteran Anderson keeping the position.

Read more: Chris Tremlett – England should not rush Ben Stokes back into the team

Anderson, the longest serving member of England’s squad, insists the extra responsibilities will not have any bearing on his performance.

“I’m delighted Joe has asked me to do it again for this series,” he said. “Being a vice-captain doesn’t make me behave any differently in the dressing room or on the field. It doesn’t change my role in the team a huge amount.

“I see myself as a senior player and I’m there for people if they need advice. Certainly if Joe needs help on the field, I’m there for him.”

Stokes pleaded not guilty to the charge of affray via video link to Bristol Crown Court on Monday, where he was informed the trial would start on 6 August.

England this week play two warm-ups against a New Zealand XI in Hamilton, with day one of the first starting today. The first Test begins on Thursday 22 March in Auckland.

Assistant coach Paul Farbrace, meanwhile, is believed to have turned down the opportunity to become Bangladesh head coach.


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