A league system for Test cricket could be in place by 2019, according to International Cricket Council chief executive Dave Richardson.
The one-sided nature of England's current series against Sri Lanka led former captain Michael Vaughan to call for a promotion and relegation system.
"Hopefully we can make a decision by the end of the year over what structure to implement," said Richardson.
Currently, the only global competition for Test cricket is the ICC rankings.
The rankings are based on bilateral series arranged between individuals countries, with Test series varying in length and frequency.
"If you want to create a real champion Test team, you need a competition that provides the same number of opportunities," Richardson told BBC Sport.
"That means the same number of fixtures, home and away, so that at the end of a league period you can crown a champion team.
"Realistically, with tours and broadcast agreements in place, we're perhaps looking at 2019 for it to begin."
Speaking after England trounced Sri Lanka by an innings in the first Test at Headingley, former captain Vaughan suggested a system that would see teams split into three leagues of four.
"Test cricket over five days, historically being played in series, lends itself to a league running over at least two years as opposed to a one-off competition where everyone comes to one country," said Richardson, a former Test wicketkeeper with South Africa.
"It will be quite difficult. Everyone wants to play Test cricket so we need to find a structure that caters to that. That could mean two groups or two divisions."
Richardson, speaking at the launch of the 2017 Champions Trophy at The Oval, confirmed that the ICC is looking at the possibility of adding a World Twenty20 competition to the calendar in 2018.
West Indies won the World Twenty20 in India in April, but the next scheduled edition of a tournament that has usually been played every two years since its inception in 2007 is currently scheduled for 2020.
"There have been discussions with broadcast partners," said Richardson. "It's too early to say if that will come to fruition.
"Following the success of this year's tournament and the opportunity the World T20 provides to associate member countries, it's something we're keen to look at."