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MCC calls for Test championship

Ricky Ponting and Andrew Strauss
The popularity of the Ashes masks the decline of global Test cricket

Cricket should adopt a world Test championship to prevent the five-day format from dying, the custodians of the sport has said.

The future of Test matches has been threatened by the surge in popularity of Twenty20 cricket.

But the MCC's world cricket committee recommended a global tournament would reinvigorate attendances for Tests.

"Test cricketers want to be able to say they're the world champions," said former Australia captain Steve Waugh.

"Most players still believe it is the pinnacle of the game and why not reward that every couple of years with a Test cricket championship or a trophy you've won?

"We can say it in the Twenty20 and 50-over game but Test cricket continues on and on. There's the ranking system but there's no actual trophy where you can hold it aloft."

The 19-man cricket committee comprises of some of the best cricketers to have played the game, including Waugh, former India captains Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, along with ex-England captains Alec Stewart, Mike Atherton and Mike Brearley.

MCC head of cricket John Stephenson

Of more concern for the committee was the increasing ambivalence towards Test cricket among cricketers from certain nations.

An MCC survey among professionals across the world revealed players coveted a lucrative Twenty20 contract with an Indian Premier League team above any other achievement.

The committee also recommended the introduction of day/night Test matches using pink balls to help resurrect attendances and TV audiences by offering more work-friendlier starting times.

"We are hoping to stage one here next year against Bangladesh," said the MCC's head of cricket John Stephenson.

"We would like to experiment with a pink ball. We've done the research and think it's worth trying. We want to safeguard the future of Test cricket."

Other recommendations included tighter controls on the number of international players playing in the IPL, particularly from the lower-ranked Test nations.

"The committee is deeply concerned that the proliferation of lucrative domestic Twenty20 leagues, such as the Indian Premier League, will lead to the premature retirement of quality international cricketers," said the MCC statement.

"Those from the lower-ranked Test nations could be particularly susceptible to such a career choice, based on earnings alone."

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see also
Adams not convinced by pink ball
04 Sep 08 |  Hampshire
Strauss hits back over Gayle row
13 May 09 |  Cricket
Windies begin tour without stars
19 Apr 09 |  West Indies
Harmison voices Twenty20 concern
15 Jun 08 |  England
Gilchrist wants Olympic cricket
04 Aug 08 |  Cricket
Pink ball makes debut at Lord's
21 Apr 08 |  Cricket

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