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  Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
World Series Cricket
Former Test cricketers Asif Iqbal and Dennis Amiss
Former Test cricketers Asif Iqbal and Dennis Amiss discussed your e-mails on Kerry Packer's World Series "circus", an episode that changed the face of cricket.

Australian media mogul Kerry Packer announced his World Series Cricket tournament 25 years ago this week, and it continues to shape the game today.

Packer signed more than 50 of the world's best cricketers to play in a television-driven tournament in direct conflict with establishment cricket.

Packer's innovations were ridiculed at the time, players' international careers were destroyed and the tournament was to fizzle out, but no-one can deny that World Series Cricket changed cricket forever.

Pakistan's Asif Iqbal and England's Dennis Amiss were both caught up in the cataclysm and joined Test Match Special's Simon Mann to discuss the events.

Glenn Keenan, Australia

Kerry Packer, both literally and metaphorically, turned on the lights for international cricket.

Asif Iqbal: I think that's absolutely right, and what he started 25 years ago is now being followed by the modern cricket establishment. People at the time called it a circus, but it actually changed the course of international cricket.

Dennis Amiss: Well he did - we started floodlit cricket. We tried it with a yellow ball first of all, but we found it was very difficult to see on television. We then went to a white ball with black side screens, and all of a sudden floodlit cricket took off.

It's still in its infancy in this country - 25 years later. We had John Maylee, who started using wickets with different lengths of grass, under soil heating and under floor heaters - he could make the wickets the way he wanted.

In the northern hemisphere we're only starting to talk about these innovations, whereas we had them 25 years ago.

Surya Pappu, India/USA

What was your perception of the quality of the cricket in the Packer series?

AI: I think it was of the very highest standard. The players selected for the World Series were the best in their respective countries, and to compete against those players you had to be at that level.

I think it bought out the best from everyone, because they wanted to outshine their opponents. It was some of the toughest cricket that I have played at that level.

DA: It was very competitive. With the Australian and West Indies fast bowlers competing against each other there were balls flying everywhere, and it was great cricket. Everybody said that it would just be show-cricket, but it was just the opposite - very fierce indeed. We all wanted to give it our best, so we got stuck in.

Sanjay Naik, USA

Was there any animosity/jealousy from your county colleagues? It seems the other WSC players were accepted by their counties but Warwickshire were determined to make an ethical stand. Do you have any regrets?

DA: Warwickshire took a very strong stance, because they had lots of committee members who held similar posts down at Lord's. It was a very difficult time with Warwickshire - some of your friends were on one side, and one or two were on the other.

I thought it was easier to be out in the middle than to be in the pavilion at times, but that's all behind us now, and all those chaps are back together again.

Simon Mann: do you have any regrets about what happened at the time?

DA: I was a long time ago, but it certainly gave me the opportunity to go to Australia, and I felt that I was one of the world's top 60 cricketers at the time.

We were getting paid well, our families were with us and it was wonderful to see Australia. I enjoyed it at the time, even though it was very tough personally.

Bhushan Y Nigale, India

Do you foresee another revolution in World Cricket similar to the Packer Series in the near future?

AI: No; I think the players are satisfied now, and they very well looked after. What Packer introduced 25 years ago was based around television, but that is the case throughout the game now.

There is a lot more money in the game today, so I can't see anything like that happening again.

DA: I agree with Asif - I wouldn't have thought it would happen again. We've learnt from those days, and international players are getting paid a realistic figure. I think international cricket is in a healthy state, and long may it continue.

Rohan, Jamaica, WI

Twenty-five years on, and Packer's innovations and changed the game for the better. However, I wonder if the players who signed up did so to improve the game, or was it merely for the financial gains?

AI: I think it was for both. As Dennis said earlier, the fact that you were recognised as one of the best cricketers in the world was a great satisfaction in itself, and on top of that we were getting paid more than if were playing for our county or country.

Those players who signed for Kerry Packer ensured that the future of the game changed completely, and I think the financial rewards are greater because of what happened 25 years ago.

SM: Dennis, would have done it if the money had been the same?

DA: I think I might have though twice about it. Obviously, it was a large sum of money in those days. But as I said earlier, it was part and parcel of being one of the best cricketers in the world.

I wanted to be among the best, but obviously the money was an added attraction. I think we were on something like 200 per Test match in international matches in the 70s, but with Packer it went up to 2,000.

Ben, London

How much did Packer pay you?

AI: I'll let Dennis answer that!

DA: I think it was something like 15,000, which was a lot of money 25 years ago. Some people may have got more, some less, but I think that was about the average figure.

AI: The money was better, but we were only playing for two months, rather than six months in the county season or in internationals.

Sameer, India

What impact has Packer had over how cricket is played today?

AI: I think Packer's biggest influence was on the marketing side of the game. Cricket was never marketed properly back then, and the administrators were satisfied to leave things as they were.

That has changed now; the authorities realise that marketing is important and can raise a lot of money - not only for the players, but also for the development of the game. The powers that be in cricket need to acknowledge that Packer did them a great service in this respect.

DA: I think floodlit cricket was a great innovation. I know it's easier in the southern hemisphere because the weather is more favourable, but it was tremendous to be one of the innovators of a very exciting game.

SM: speaking of innovation, Dennis, you were the first batsmen to wear a crash helmet.

DA: That's right; I'd been hit on the head once or twice. You can take it on the body - sometimes you crack, sometimes you don't - but on the head is the worst place to be hit.

So I took out a motorcycle helmet made of fibreglass, with a polycarbonate visor that could take a double-barrel shogun from 10 paces - so I though it could withstand a cricket ball!

There were a lot of very fast bowlers out there - all bowling at 90mph. Bowlers were starting to realise that if they could bowl bouncers at you at that speed they could break your concentration, so I decided that I would wear the helmet.

I wasn't long before one or two others started wearing them - especially David Brookes, who had his at broken at the Sydney Showground. He asked to borrow my helmet for his first game back after that, and hooked the first bouncer that came in out of the ground.

That just shows the confidence that he gained from wearing the helmet. Richie Bernaud was later heard to say that it was one of the great moments in cricket.

Imran Khalid, Germany

In joining Kerry Packer, did you ever feel that you had betrayed your country?

AI: No; I honestly believed that by playing for Packer I wasn't discarding them. I was available to play for Pakistan, but it was my country's board and the ICC that decided that I shouldn't be allowed to play.

But I was fortunate enough to recalled afterwards, and it was a great feeling. I felt that it had been accepted that myself and the others joined Packer because there was something wrong with the running of the game.

DA: I was coming to the end of my international career having played 50 test matches, so it was probably an easier decision for me to make than for some others. I wasn't playing particularly well at the time, and probably wouldn't have been selected for England anyway.

But when I signed with Packer, I made sure that I was always available to play for Warwickshire during the summer months.

SM: It mush have been tough at the time though.

DA: Yes it was, and I had to make some difficult decisions. It was tough for everybody at the time, but hopefully the game as a whole has benefited from what happened.

BBC Sport Online marks the 25th anniversary of the Kerry Packer saga

How it began

Cricket visionary

England divided

Sporting circus

Looking back

Family connection





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