Australian news October 12, 2010

Cricket Australia changes tune on Test value

Cricket Australia has downgraded its rating of Tests as the most important form after its chief executive James Sutherland said there was now "a fine balance" between the priorities of five-day fixtures and the Twenty20 Champions League. Sutherland's comments come after Michael Hussey was not allowed to leave the tournament in South Africa early because his team, Chennai Super Kings, had reached the final.

Staying for the decider, which Chennai won last month, meant Hussey and Doug Bollinger did not arrive in India to prepare for the first Test until three days before the match. Bollinger suffered a stomach injury during the game in Mohali and Hussey felt out of touch.

"Michael Hussey made it clear to CA before and during the CLT20 that his strong preference and preferred intention was to leave earlier than the final to prepare for the Test series in India," Sutherland said. "It was only because of our requirement and the performance of his franchise that he stayed until the end of the CLT20 final.

"Michael had nothing but the best intentions of preparing for and playing for his country as his absolute priority but there was a fine balance between a high profile, elite club T20 competition and preparing for international cricket."

Previously, interrupting the preparation for a Test was unthinkable but Twenty20 is changing the rules. Cricket Australia is one of the organisers of the Champions League and Sutherland said it was important for all three formats to prosper.

"In this case, the scheduling was difficult, particularly after the decision to play Tests in the current series, and it is a fact of life that scheduling of elite cricket - which we have sometimes described as being as difficult as trying to play chess in three dimensions - will create tough decisions from time to time," Sutherland said. India's MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina experienced the same length of preparation as Hussey and Bollinger.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo