The International Cricket Council's plans to hold the inaugural world Test championships in 2013 came unstuck on Tuesday over the commercial viability of the event.
The ICC's executive board, which met in Dubai over the last two days, failed to confirm if the championship will replace the originally scheduled Champions Trophy one-day tournament in England.
The ICC will discuss the financial implications of replacing a one-day event with a Test championship with its official broadcaster, ESPN Star Sports, before arriving at a decision.
"The executive board confirmed their preference to host an ICC Test championship in 2013, but recognised the significant commercial challenge in trying to replace the Champions Trophy," a statement from the ruling body said.
"Without the support and consent of the ICC's broadcast partner, ESPN Star Sports, the financial implications on the members and the development of the game would be significant."
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, an enthusiastic supporter of the Test championship, hoped the event would go ahead in 2013.
"It would be unfortunate if the Test championship is delayed to 2017, but the board needs to balance several objectives," Lorgat said in the statement.
The Test championship was planned as a knock-out competition between the top four teams at a yet undecided cut-off date, with the two semi-finals and the final being held in England.
England currently lead the rankings with 125 points, followed by South Africa (118), India (117), Australia (104) and Sri Lanka (103).
Test cricket has so far been played mainly on a bilateral basis since the first match in 1877.