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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Super Series snore?
By Jonathan Stevenson and Martin Gough

On paper the Super Series had all the right factors: a team that had dominated world cricket for the last six years pitted against the best players from the rest of the world.

Empty seats were obvious as Australia completed victory
In practice it was a bit of a disappointment, with a hastily-convened World XI failing to win a single match against Australia.

Spectators were unimpressed, with more than half of Melbourne's Telstra Dome left empty for each of three one-day internationals.

Just 5,000 turned out at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the finale of what was billed in advance as "Cricket's ultimate test".

That title had already been rendered superfluous before the series started - the Ashes had just provided one of the most thrilling cricketing encounters ever.

But after the Super Test, players and pundits were still reluctant to let the Super Series disappear after just one attempt.

Sydney Morning Herald cricket correspondent, and former Somerset captain, Peter Roebuck was just one spectator in favour.

"I think it's a great concept, I'm very much in favour of it despite it being criticised almost from day one," he told BBC Sport.

"The idea of the best team in the world playing a mixture of the best players is an exciting one - I just think they haven't quite got it right this time.

"But it'd be a shame if they canned it straight away again."

Malcolm Speed
As far as the world team is concerned, we share the players' disappointment in their performance
Malcolm Speed
ICC chief executive
The International Cricket Council's aim had been to create another series - like the World Cup and the Champions Trophy - to gain direct revenue.

Although the game's governing body oversees all international cricket, income from other series - from gate, television and sponsorship revenue - are shared by the countries involved.

India, where the matches were shown on Sony Entertainment Television was one of the big target markets.

Sanjeev Samyal from the Mumbai-based Mid Day newspaper told BBC Sport: "It's a good idea and it was very popular in India right from the start.

"Maybe they didn't have enough time to prepare properly for the game.

Super Test, Sydney:
3rd ODI, Melbourne:
2nd ODI, Melbourne:
1st ODI, Melbourne:
"Looking at the Australia team over the past two weeks you can't say there's much wrong with it."

That highlights the biggest problem with the Super Series: While Australia appeared to be back at their best after their Ashes defeat, the World XI were well off the pace.

As rugby's British and Irish Lions showed this year, a group of talented individuals often struggle to gel into a winning team.

"When we set this series up the question we asked was, 'Can a team of champions beat a champion team?" said ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed.

"I think we saw the answer.

"As far as the world team is concerned, we share the players' disappointment in their performances."

The timing of the series, right at the start of the Southern Hemisphere summer, after most players had enjoyed some time off, meant that many were caught cold.

That could have been combatted if the World side had been given more warm-up games but many top players already believe they play far too much in the modern era.

World XI captain Graeme Smith believed his side lost 20% of their motivation by not having national pride to play for.

He suggested that in future the number one team in Test cricket could play number two, but by coincidence that happened recently - it was called the Ashes.

World coach John Wright pointed out the attraction offered by these matches and not by the five-Test Ashes series.

"From a personal point of view, sometimes finals are attractive, where a winner takes all," he said. "There are various concepts out there."

The Super Series, he added, "is an attractive package, but it's got to produce the quality of cricket to match it."

On paper it is a great idea, but in practice it still needs a lot of work.


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