May 31, 2003

Australia in `fool's paradise': Malcolm Gray

Wisden CricInfo staff

Australia's total domination of world cricket is endangering the sport, according to Malcolm Gray, the outgoing chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

"On many occasions I have put it to the Australian Cricket Board that they are living in a fool's paradise," said Gray, to The Australian newspaper. "Their team is the best team in the world undoubtedly, they are financially secure, their administration is at least equal to the best in the world. It is very easy in Australia to have a rosy view of cricket and not realise the problems internationally. It's a very serious problem."

Gray said that the one-sided nature of many cricket matches was undermining public interest in the game. Australia won the cricket World Cup in South Africa earlier this year and have dominated one-time powerhouses England and the West Indies in their last two Test series.

When they return from their current West Indies tour, Australia's remaining Tests for the year will be against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, the minnows of the game.

"Previously the Australian public has loved the Australian team playing so well and winning everything," Gray said. "However, I maintain that eventually the Australian public will tire of that and we may be on the cusp."

Gray notably pointed to the strong public criticism at home of perceived poor sportsmanship by Australian players during the West Indies tour -- particularly an invective-filled outburst by Glenn McGrath against Ramnaresh Sarwan.

Gray said that the biggest challenge facing the sport was to help promote the game in struggling Test nations "to ensure that there is a greater evenness within the competition".