Inaugural Asian Test championhips (11 February 1999)

11 February 1999

Inaugural Asian Test championhips

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

Lanka play India on February 24

World champs Sri Lanka will play their first match of the Coca Cola Asian Test championships against India from February 24-28 at the SSC grounds.

They will then fly to Lahore to meet Pakistan in their second game from March 4-8.

Any doubts of the Asian Test championships being postponed were quelled by Asian Cricket Council (ACC) chairman Thilinga Sumathipala yesterday.

Addressing a press conference at the Board of Control of Cricket in Sri Lanka headquarters, Sumathipala said that doubts were raised whether the championship would take place following reports from India that it may be postponed due to the Indo-Pakistan Test series.

Sumathipala however stated that the Asian Test championship was very much on and that the first match of this new venture would take place in Calcutta from February 16-20 between India and Pakistan.

This Test will be followed by the Sri Lanka matches. At the end of the preliminary phase, the top two teams in the standings will qualify to play in the final at Dhaka, from March 12-16.

A points system devised by the Asian Test championship technical committee comprising Duleep Mendis (who is the tournament director), Ashantha de Mel, Sunil Gavaskar and Majid Khan will be in use. Twelve points will be awarded for a win, and bonus points awarded for batting and bowling in the first 100 overs of the first innings. In the case of a loss or drawn game, no points will be awarded except the bonus points.

The champion team will receive prize money worth US$ 250,000, the losing finalist, US$ 145,000, and the losers of the first round, US$ 100,000. Individual prize money will be awarded to 'Man of the Series' (US$ 20,000), 'Man of the Match' (US$ 5,000) and 'Man of the Match' - finals (US$ 10,000).

The Asian Test championship is expected to be a forerunner to the World Test championship which the International Cricket Council (ICC) is hoping to conduct in the near future. However, due to commitments by the other Test playing countries, it may not see the light of day until the year 2003.

The Asian Test championships which the ACC are conducting was endorsed by the ICC at their meeting held in Christchurch early this year. Sumathipala said the ICC will be closely monitoring the running of the championship and will use it as a role model for the World Test championship.

He said that for the first time, the Test matches of the championship will be officiated by two independent umpires of the ICC panel. The usual pattern is that one ICC umpire and one home umpire stand in Test matches.

The umpires for the four Test matches will be selected from an ICC panel comprising: David Shepherd (England), Russel Tiffin (Zimbabwe), Doug Cowie (New Zealand), Rudy Koertzen (South Africa), David Orchard (South Africa) and Steve Bucknor (West Indies).

Three umpires from each of the participating countries will play the role of third umpire for the matches - K.T. Francis (Sri Lanka), Srini Venkatraghavan (India) and Saleem Badar (Pakistan). The ICC match referee for the championship will be Cammie Smith of West Indies.

The Asian Test championship will be held every two years, alternatively with the Asia Cup. The next Asia Cup is scheduled to take place in the year 2000.

Source :: Daily News (http://www.lanka.net)