Pak­istan’s Ramiz Raja wants Test ‘win­dow’

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Former Pak­istan bats­man Ramiz Raja has urged the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil to set aside a two-month win­dow solely for Test matches in a bid to pre­serve the long­est form of the game.

While crowds for Tests in coun­tries such as Eng­land re­main strong, Raja, a mem­ber of the in­flu­en­tial MCC world cricket com­mit­tee, fears in­ter­est in Asia is “dwin­dling” thanks partly to the rise of lu­cra­tive do­mes­tic Twenty20 com­pe­ti­tions such as the In­dian Premier League.

“I feel that the ICC has a de­cent plan in the shape of the World Test Cham­pi­onship,” said Raja af­ter a com­mit­tee meet­ing at Lord’s on Tues­day. “There should be a win­dow for that and ev­ery­thing else should stop for a pe­riod of two months so the best play­ers are avail­able to play Test cricket.”

He added: “It’s got to get bet­ter. In Asia, for ex­am­ple, be­cause of poor Test match sched­ul­ing, the in­ter­est is dwin­dling. “When you go back home you are never sure if you are go­ing to have a one-Test se­ries, a two-Test se­ries or whether you are go­ing to have a Test se­ries at all.”

‘RE­SPECT’

Raja said na­tional gov­ern­ing bod­ies such as the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia and the Pak­istan Cricket Board had to play their part as well.

“You have to ac­knowl­edge and re­spect the sta­tus of Test match cricket and it has to come from the cricket boards, in Asia specif­i­cally. “For ex­am­ple, MS Dhoni re­tired from Test cricket yet got the A-grade con­tract from the BCCI, Shahid Afridi re­tired from Test cricket yet got the A-grade con­tract from PCB.

“It is un­der a lot of stress in Asia but if we have a prop­erly planned Test match cham­pi­onship, that’s the way out of this, oth­er­wise we will be strug­gling to put aside as much money as is avail­able for the T20 leagues,” Raja in­sisted.

Mean­while the com­mit­tee, whose mem­bers also in­clude such il­lus­tri­ous names as Ricky Ponting, Bren­don McCul­lum, Sourav Gan­guly and Ku­mar San­gakkara, has come down against re­duc­ing Tests from five days to four days af­ter it was sug­gested a shorter game might be more fan-friendly.

“Last time we met, the com­mit­tee was split, with some be­liev­ing we should trial four-day Test matches,” said out­go­ing chair­man Mike Brear­ley, the former Eng­land cap­tain. “This time, most of us thought, look­ing at the fact that over half the matches that got re­sults last year got re­sults in the fifth day, that we didn’t want Test cricket to be­come more bor­ing. So from a cricket point of view, we believe they should stay five days.”

The com­mit­tee also urged the ICC to move quickly to try to get cricket in­cluded for the 2024 Olympics, which will be staged in ei­ther Los An­ge­les or Paris. “It is cru­cial to have cricket in the Olympics be­cause the game will be in­tro­duced to many new parts of the world,” said Raja.

“But for that to hap­pen we have to present a uni­fied front from cricket that we want to be in­cluded in the Games. “Los An­ge­les would be per­fect-I played cricket there and you’d get mas­sive crowds.”

Brear­ley added it also be a huge boost to cricket in China as the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment would in­ject huge funds if they had an Olympic team. —AFP

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