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.