Test cricket June 25, 2010

Smith emphasises need for Test championship

Cricinfo staff

Graeme Smith, the South African captain, has urged the ICC to introduce a Test Championship when its members meet for its annual general meeting in Singapore next week.

"I believe a Test championship is a matter of urgency to stimulate the five-day game," Smith told Reuters by email from Bridgetown. "All our senior players support a formal Test championship," he said. South Africa are currently ranked No 2, behind India, in the ICC's Test rankings.

South Africa are presently playing a three-Test series in the West Indies where the matches have attracted poor crowds. There have been concerns over dwindling crowds at Test venues around the world and Smith believed a championship would help addressing the issue. The concept of a Test championship had also received backing from Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan captain.

"Such a championship would give context and value to every Test match and would stimulate interest in the five-day game worldwide," Smith said. "It is important all Test matches should have equal value and that is what a championship would do. If you look at the [football] Premiership in England, for example, Manchester United picks up three points for a win, whether it is against [champions] Chelsea or one of the relegation strugglers."

Smith also stressed on the need for more bowler-friendly pitches in Test cricket to maintain a balance between bat and ball. West Indies and South Africa scored a total of 1324 runs for the loss of 19 wickets in the second Test St. Kitts and it was clear by the end of the third day that the match was heading for a draw.

"It [the pitch at Warner Park] was not a good surface to play Test cricket on," Smith said. "We're all looking for a pitch that will result in a good contest between bat and ball. Hopefully the wicket in Barbados will lend the teams more assistance."

South Africa lead the three-Test series 1-0 going into the final Test at Bridgetown, which begins on June 26.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ricardo on July 2, 2010, 12:52 GMT

    One thing I am not in agreement with is the automatic "promotion/relgation" of associates into a test league table. Why?? countires like ireland need help to develop their game. If you put them straight into the deep end and they get relegated, how can they improve?? thewy won't get better by just fast tracking them to the top division where they may play Aus, Sri L, Ind, Eng...etc, even against NZ & WI, and Bangl, they are not gaurenteed series victories. these countries need funding and support.....and then they can join. or they might just keep getting beat and loose faith and stick only to T20. In football in england the premiership, has "yo-yo" clubs that are the best chamionship sides but still not good enough to stay in the top flight....the result, constant relegation & promotion. bolton FC were relegated/promoted for 8 years between the premiership & the next division before they became a regular premiership team. Do you want that to happen to Ireland??

  • Ricardo on July 2, 2010, 12:39 GMT

    As well as avioding re-schedule issues, a proper points system needs to be developed, that awards the best attacking teams in the case of a drawn test match. you don't want a world test championship with a team winning a tournament by just playing negative cricket and just sneaking through a seires 1-0, and not attempting to play winning cricket, playing for draws. During a drawn test match the attacking team needs to be given "bouns" points, for trying to win the game. Maybe some sort of points deduction could be introduced for teams "playing for a the draw", or "producing poor pitches"???? I don't know how these issues are going to be resloved but some thought needs to be directed towards such issues.

  • Ricardo on June 30, 2010, 16:19 GMT

    I think we have all known that we need this urgently, to preserve the game - because we cannot survive of T20 alone. We need a multi-day format to balance things, up. The problem is how to do it. Promotion/relegation with more than 1 division? Zonal groups, with teams in each group playing each other round robin style, with the top teams going into a final play-off? each method has it's good/bad points. off all the suggestions, I do like the idea of the top 3/4 nations going to neutral venue to take part in a play-offs final. This could be rotated like the CWC to boost crowds, tourism, revenue etc...we all know the main thing blocking this is needs of the major boards. the ECB & CA don't want to loose the ashes, as it brings in revenue, and the BCCI don't want to re-schedule any of the T20 tournaments the hold for the same reason. If it can be done around these things it would definately get the green light.

  • Dummy4 on June 27, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    Promote the top 2 associate countries making 12 test countries. Divide test nations into 3 divisions of 4, playing 3-test series home and away over a period of 2 years. That is 9 tests each per year. Team ranked bottom of division gets relegated for the next 2 years. Team ranked top of division gets promoted. Bottom team from division 3 goes back to play intercontinental cup, replaced by its winner. Top 2 teams in division one can play a final if wanted.

    This gives incentives for all countries to compete at their best. It also provides a clear passage of promotion for current associates. And of course, the teams playing each other would be of equivalent skill, leading to more exciting games.

  • Vikrant on June 26, 2010, 4:55 GMT

    hope this happens.. and tests are played on 'good' wickets rather than the 'dead' wickets like the ones on offer in Windies. Also, please do not call Subcontinent wickets as 'dead' - sometimes there indeed is / are 'badly prepared' pitches (badly prepared - in terms of contest between bat and ball) but on a spinning track, most visiting teams (from outside subcontinent) term the wicket as a bad one for cricket as if playing on a spinning track is lesser of an art compared to playing on a seaming pitches of Eng. / SA / Aus. !!

  • ABHINAV on June 25, 2010, 21:55 GMT

    test cricket must b allowed to prosper r in the near future v will definitely hear cricket tips from Shilpa shetty n preity zinta who let their mouth run havoc n their artificial expressions when their team either wins r loses...a test championship was conducted for asian countries in 1999 n it was good to see pakistan emerging victorious pakistan has produced more cricket players who can b called all rounders..n also good pace bowlers..they have good pace bowling reserves i ndomestic scene as compared to india (with more than a billion people) ...v don have any pacer who can bowl at 150 kmph n domestic pool of bowlers r pedestrian...it would be a shame for Kallis,Botham,Imran khan,Flintoff if India labelled Ravindra Jadeja as allrounder..he cant even b compared to club cricketers in aus r eng.. India xcan called the best test playing nation if it can beat Aus in Aus,Sa in Sa or the current England squad in Eng..but that definitely wont happen even if sachin scores 300!

  • ABHINAV on June 25, 2010, 21:41 GMT

    Good one from Smith!it will definitely give us a more conclusive result about the best test playing nation..i dont think India is numero uno in tests bcos they end up playing most of their cricket against Srilanka n its like a group of friends playing in the backyard..the future tour programme of icc is not at all correct as it is concentrating more on indian cricket..i dunno y India always plays against srilanka! while w.i n Nz get to play less no of tests,even Aus n Sa dont get to play much cricketafter their traditional season..Bcci had made changes to the original schedule to accomodate tests ( to claim that its protecting test cricket) but actually they r doin it so that India retains the no 1 spot..do u think they would hav done this if India had ranked below the top three..better scrap ipl as its killing cricket by bringin the concept of "cricketainment" (by showing ads for every ball,cheer girls in skimpy dresses n importance to actress who dunno anything abt the game)

  • Muneeb on June 25, 2010, 16:52 GMT

    Good on you Graeme...good timing too, kinda like your flick through square leg...ok, serious now: personally, I think a test championship would be great, involving all test nations in an X year cycle. After X number of years have passed, the top 4 teams go into a neutral venue play-off to decide the test champion. This will continuoulsy test teams ability to make a result of every game, and reward positive and well balanced teams.

    Frankly, I don't think India is the best test team as the rankings suggest. When last have they WON an away series against SA or AUS (their closest contenders) outright? They always win one match away (Johannesburg & Perth) in an away series, and end up losing a series. The best team in the world wins home and away...consistently, as AUS did for many years, and SA did in 2007-08. They're good at home, without being spectacular (drawn series against SA earlier this yr), and poor away!

    A test championship would alleviate these misrepresentations.

  • Venkata on June 25, 2010, 15:45 GMT

    yes i agree with smith. we surely need an world test championship. the total no of matches played now varies from team to team and it is not ideal to decide who is the no 1. we should limit the test playing countries to 8. by reading all the comments posted on cricinfo on various articles, it is clear that all the readers of cricinfo have got ideas on test championships which can be considered. i think icc should read the comments posted on cricinfo. its more than enough to get an idea on how an test championship should be. i ve got my own test championship format but its icc to decide on that issue. no point in framing it and keeping in our pc's. let us see what the icc going to do in the upcoming meeting.

  • Kolitha on June 25, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    Yaaaa....I'm completely agree with smith. If there is a championship, then there will be more fans for test cricket. All 3 formats of cricket is important. There is more chance for batsmen & bowlers in test matches to show their capabilities. I think there should be at least 9-10 test matches for a team per year. sri lanka didn't play 1 test yet this year. We are fed up with too much t20s. I think a real cricket lover would like all 3 formats equely. Hope ICC will concern about this.

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