Australia v World XI, Super Test October 17, 2005

Concept fails to fire the imagination

Graeme Smith appeals for tradition © Getty Images
New ideas experimented in the Super Series have not proved to be an unqualified success. The World XI have not come close to putting up a challenge in the six-day Test - which was over in three-and-a-half - or the three one-day internationals in Melbourne.

Prior to the event, the ICC said the future of the venture would be based on the success of this pilot episode in the same way players are judged on results. So the ICC is in a difficult position and the commissioning of another series is unlikely.

Going by some of the post-match comments they are going to find it difficult to bank on the support of those who took part over the last two weeks. John Wright, the World XI coach, didn't write off the idea but suggested that there were alternatives.

"From a personal point of view sometimes finals are attractive, where the winner takes all, one and two [in the Test match table] over the four years. There are various concepts that are other there. It is an attractive package but it has got to produce the quality of cricket to match."

Graeme Smith urged the ICC to go away and research this type of event before staging another: "I think it is too early to make a decision and we need to take some time and go and look at it. There are other concepts around and maybe a little bit more research and it can be a good idea."

He added that for the World XI the timing had not been ideal: "I think scheduling is important; a lot of our guys arrived here with no cricket. Australia have come out of a tough series, they are cricket fit and for some of our guys it was their first game in three or four months. The concept is going in the right direction but maybe just tinker with it a bit."

But just as Ricky Ponting made all the right moves on the pitch, as far as the ICC is concerned he is saying the right things off it too. "It's been a very enjoyable Test match to play in. I think the concept is great, the idea of this series is fantastic and hopefully I will get to play a few of them through the years." It is amazing how pleasing something is when you finish on the winning side.

So while the matches have got a lukewarm response, the other issue under the spotlight was the increased use of the third umpire. Smith said that removing the human element from umpiring does not necessarily contribute to better decisions, while Ponting said that it was important not to make any hurried decisions about the third umpire, but was happy with what he had seen. "I think we are going to have to use it more until we get a really good idea on it. The thing I would be most interested in is what the umpires think of it and how they feel it worked."

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo