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Geoff Boycott has slammed Test cricket's minnows and launched a stinging criticism of the ICC which he accused of devaluing the game by its continuing refusal to acknowledge that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have not got what it takes to compete at Test level.
Delivering the fifth annual Cowdrey Lecture on the eve of the Lord's Test, Boycott was in typically outspoken form. "I honestly believe the ICC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this devaluation of Test cricket to continue," he said. "My mum would have scored runs and got wickets against Bangladesh ... she'd have wanted to bat and bowl at both ends They are an embarrassment to Test cricket. Nobody wants to see it and the vast accumulation of runs against them does nothing for the game."
He also called for the reintroduction of four-day Tests as well as day-night Tests in an effort to boost attendances. Although crowds for Tests in England remain excellent, elsewhere it is a different story. "Administrators have to understand that we must reverse the trend," he argued. The Test match game is already on a slippery slope and unless we get more fans and supporters in the grounds, Tests will die out in the years to come.
"They say that we can't have day-night Test matches because of the white ball. They always bring this up and it's nothing more than a red herring. We can get a man on the moon, yet we can't find a white cricket ball that lasts 80 overs. It's laughable, isn't it?"
And Boycott also slammed the ICC for insisting on punishing schedules which risk player burn-out. "Someone has to sit down and answer the question: 'what is a reasonable number of Tests and one-day games for a player to perform in without burn-out? Nobody seems bothered about that, but the players are knackered.
"What we need is some leadership, some dynamism, a desire to tackle the problems and promote the game. Not just let it meander along expecting people to turn up at our convenience."
Boycott also praised the advent of Twenty20 cricket. "It's an amazing game which has excited audiences and filled grounds and could easily take the place of the ICC [Champions] Trophy, which last year was a damp squib. We should treat it as a fun day out that complements rather than takes the place of Test and 50-over matches.
"It could be a big money-spinner, the public would support it and TV would queue up for it."