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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 May, 2004, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
Expansion on the agenda
By Oliver Brett

Dave Richardson
Richardson is one of the more progressive faces at the ICC

It may not happen at all, and even if it does it would take a long time to come to fruition, but the seeds have been sown at the ICC to shake up Test cricket.

Anyone remotely connected to the game is aware that a Test series pitting Australia against Zimbabwe, or South Africa versus Bangladesh, is a desperate mis-match.

So Dave Richardson, the International Cricket Council's general manager, is presiding over a project that would see the Test nations reduced from 10 to eight.

There would be two tiers of teams below the elite eight and they would fight for the right to join the top table for two or three years.

The second division would play each other home and away in four-day matches.

Division One (Test elite): Australia, South Africa, India, England, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies
Division Two: Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, Holland, Scotland
Division Three: Canada, USA, UAE, Nepal, Ireland, Malaysia

And whoever emerges on top would play the bottom Test team in a one-off challenge for the right to join the likes of Australia and England.

The top team or top two teams from the third division would be automatically promoted to the second tier with relegation facing the poorest performers from the second division.

Scotland would be a clear candidate for the second division where they would be faced with the prospects of touring Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Their captain Craig Wright told BBC Sport: "It's an exciting prospect to play more international cricket and longer matches.

"The Totesport League gives us higher exposure in one-day cricket but the four-day game is something we would love to get exposure to."

Wright feels that given that his own team is still strictly amateur, along with the likes of Holland and Namibia, the ICC would have to find money to give the players semi-professional status.

C Wright
Countries like ourselves, Canada, Namibia feel they can compete with Zimbabwe and Bangladesh
Craig Wright
Scotland captain

That could avert the logistical nightmare of getting players involved in full-time employment outside cricket to take part.

"There would be no way to contemplate it if that wasn't the case. We struggle to get a full team as it is at the moment.

"Our ultimate aim is to have a professional set-up and show where we are against other countries in the longer form of the game."

Wright is disappointed by some of the Test fare on offer at present.

"Nobody wants to watch a team being demolished - that doesn't make for good sport. Countries like ourselves, Canada, Namibia feel they can compete with Zimbabwe and Bangladesh."

Holland and Scotland only play each other in one-day cricket
Holland and Scotland only play each other in one-day cricket

He said the carrot of playing against Australia was "the absolute pinnacle".

"To be seen on a global scale like that and with the financial spin-off, that could be the making of cricket."

One massive obstacle would be persuading Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to drop down a level.

They would need to be persuaded that only by chalking up a few wins would their team spirit and general belief improve.

Another advocate of the plan is Andy Moles, the former Warwickshire batsman and current Kenya coach.

He told BBC Sport back in February of his own blueprint for the future and it seems remarkably similar to Richardson's.

Publicly, the ICC will say nothing about the scheme, beyond acknowledging that a "review of the structure of international cricket is ongoing."

Patience will clearly be required before the excitement can begin.




SEE ALSO
Ponting wants tougher tests
24 May 04 |  Cricket
ICC targets expansion
09 May 04 |  Cricket
Kenya's grand plan
11 Feb 04 |  Cricket
Mani backs expansion plan
03 Jul 02 |  Cricket


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