By Danyal Khan 

The world's top women cricket teams will take part in a new international championship announced today by the ICC ©Getty ImagesJanuary 29 - The International Cricket Council (ICC) Board today announced a new women's international competition in which the top eight countries will face each other in a series of matches between mid-2014 and the end of 2016.

The 50-over competition will involve Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, South Africa and West Indies. 

The teams who finish within the six top will automatically qualify for the 2017 Women's World Cup in England.

Contrasting to the men's game, there will also be promotion and relegation at the end of the first cycle.

Australia won the last Women's World Cup in India. ©AFPAustralia won the last Women's World Cup in India. ©AFP

"This is a very positive step for the profile and competitiveness of women's cricket," said David Richardson, chief executive of the ICC. 

Former South African wicket-keeper Richardson expects interest in women's cricket to increase when England host the World Cup in three years after an impressive turn-out during the 2013 World Cup in India.

"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," he said.

The countries that finish in the bottom of the draw will face teams from the ICC's regional qualification tournaments to decide the remaining participants for the World Cup.