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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 07:59 GMT 08:59 UK
Ponting wants tougher tests
Ricky Ponting
The quality of elite competition must be preserved
Ricky Ponting
Australian captain Ricky Ponting has urged the International Cricket Council to take a tough line to ensure playing standards remain high at the top level.

"There should be fewer nations playing better cricket. That is what we want to play and that is what the fans want to see," he said.

"There are state sides in Australia significantly better than some of the teams we have played in recent years."

His comments followed the postponement of Australia's Test series in Zimbabwe.

The decision resulted from a dispute between the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and 15 rebel players which meant they were only able to field an under-strength side.

Zimbabwe have won only eight of their 75 Tests in the past 12 years, while Bangladesh have lost 26 of their 28 Tests since gaining Full Member status of the ICC in 2000.

Writing in The Australian newspaper, Ponting said: "There is no doubt some teams in their current state need to be monitored closely.

"There must be minimum standards all sides should be expected to maintain, but a serious examination of what lies behind a country's national team.

"Their depth, infrastructure and whther they appear to have the capacity to improve and become competitive should be taken into account.

"This is in all forms of the game. While the development of the game across the globe is vital, the quality of elite competition must be preserved."

Ponting believes standards in one-day cricket are being compromised by the involvement of lesser teams in major competitions.

The USA will take on Australia at the Champions Trophy in England in September and the 2007 World Cup will feature five nations who do not have Full Member status.

"These are meant to be the showcase events for our game, yet they contain many lop-sided matches that were never going to be a contest," added Ponting.

"I believe there should be stricter criteria and tougher qualifying standards for developing sides to be included in elite competitions."

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