Ricky Ponting has set the cat among the pigeons ahead of Australia's tour to Bangladesh by calling for Bangladesh to be stripped of its Test status. In an interview with London's Daily Telegraph Ponting said: "What I would not have is the minnow nations in the World Cup and the Champions Trophy, and I would not have Bangladesh and Zimbabwe playing Tests at present."
Interestingly, yesterday Cricket Australia (CA) issued a statement in support of Bangladesh playing Test cricket. "Test cricket needs to be about the best playing the best. There are some countries that are developing, and the way to develop is to play on a regular basis against the best countries in the world. Cricket Australia has bought into that process by sending the Australian team," a CA spokesman said.
However, despite not toeing the official line Ponting won't be reprimanded. Late last night CA indulged in damage control, getting Ponting to issue a more diplomatic statement. "If it takes teams like Australia playing teams like Bangladesh for the developing Test nations to improve their skills, then I'm all for it," Ponting said "I'm looking forward to the challenge of leading Australia in Bangladesh".
Australia is set to tour Bangladesh for a two-Test series in April and Ponting's comments are sure to set off sparks ahead of the series. Bangladesh's biggest cricketing success to date came against Australia, whom they defeated in a one-dayer last year. Since their entry into the big league, Bangladesh have played 40 Tests - losing 35 and winning only one, against Zimbabwe - and have won just 10 of 113 ODIs.