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Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 12:04 UK

ECB boss backs neutral Tests idea

England and Wales Cricket Board chief Giles Clarke
Clarke has backed the idea of staging neutral Tests

The chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board has backed the idea of Britain being a neutral host for Tests.

Giles Clarke said the prospect of games such as India v Pakistan at British venues made financial sense and could help the profile of Test cricket.

"I like the idea of providing a chance with our grounds and ethnic minority populations who are keen to see their heroes," he told The Wisden Cricketer.

"It may be in the interests of cricket; that's most important thing for me."

He added: "It might be said Pakistan might get a better crowd in Leeds than in Karachi."

But he warned any strategy to maintain the profile of Test cricket in the face of the overwhelming success of Twenty20 needed to be thought through.

"Clearly I can't speak for anyone else internationally. Other countries do things slightly differently from us because of the economics from their point of view," he said.

"We have to respect that, but I doubt very much whether we will play fewer than five Tests against Australia and we have negotiated 'icon series' status with South Africa and will play five Tests there on our next tour.

"There is a strong awareness within the International Cricket Council of how important Test cricket is and of the importance of looking after it. There is only so much I can do."

Surrey chief executive Paul Sheldon was cautious because of the extra expense and administration required to stage Test cricket.

But he confirmed that the county had spoken to Indian Premier League franchises about the possibility of staging Twenty20 matches at The Oval.

Sheldon said: "It is true we have spoken to certain IPL franchises about staging games here.

"If it was possible within the calendar and with the blessing of the England and Wales Cricket Board, we would certainly look at it.

"Looking forward to 2009, the domestic and international calendar is very tight - so it will probably be difficult to find time for it.

"If it were possible we would be very keen to do it, but we would always work closely with the ECB."

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