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Aug 12, 2010

ICC open to regular Test 'final'

Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, has said it is open to an annual or biennial Test final to make the longer form of the game more exciting and attractive. Lorgat agreed that it was important, to arrest the general dwindling interest in Tests, to build context around the format and infuse meaning for every series.
"At the next chief executives committee [CEC] meeting (to be held on November 30 and December 1) we will have more discussions and find a way of creating context for Test cricket," Lorgat told Cricinfo. "That does not necessarily mean a Test championship, but we could work towards a Test final every year or ever second year but that depends on the mechanics of how you work out the model."
A day after releasing the 2011 Word Cup schedule in Mumbai, an exercise that Lorgat admitted was nothing short of climbing a mountain, the ICC's CEO appeared relieved and said he now had more time to actively pursue important issues on the back burner in the recent past. Apart from the health of Test cricket, Lorgat said he wanted to make the 50-over game, something critics had said was on its last legs, much more appealing to fans and players.
"There is no doubt that there is an opportunity to create a few tweaks that would enhance the ODI game," he said.
Lorgat was quick to pitch new ideas: "The middle overs in an ODI is an area where we could experiment with something like the Powerplay component. At the moment the fielding side takes it immediately after the ten-over mark; perhaps that could be changed. Also, the batting side should take the Powerplay before the 40-over mark because the last ten overs are always a dash for runs. Maybe we need to consider lifting the limitations on bowlers: should they be restricted to ten overs? Typically the bits-and-pieces bowlers come into play during the middle overs where nothing much is happening, but if there is a penetrative bowler things could be different."
It is easy to forget Lorgat once was an allrounder for Eastern Province and Transvaal before moving on to become a selector and now an administrator. For the moment, Lorgat is happy making suggestions while remaining open to them. He welcomed discussions about a possible Test championship, which he said was still under consideration. "If I was pressed for an answer the ideal would be some form of a championship where you collect points and work towards a stage where four teams play in the semi-finals and then a final."
His idea was similar to Martin Crowe's recent suggestion to stage a knockout World Test Championship with the final played annually. Crowe presented his proposal to the ICC's Cricket Committee in September with an aim to address the problem of declining interest in contests between lower-ranked Test teams and the danger it posed for the longer format.
Lorgat said both the CEC and even the ICC board were open to Crowe's theory, which recommends integrating the model into the existing fixtures lists and television contracts. "I think it is possible - the system devised by Crowe - because you are taking existing fixtures, turning them into a set of points and then having four teams contesting in the semis and two in the final," Lorgat said.
Clive Lloyd, who chairs ICC's Cricket Committee, will bring his thoughts to the table at the CEC meeting; members will then discuss it again at the Board meeting to be held on February 10-11 next year.
Lorgat said Crowe's model would be an idea worthy of "testing out in full". But the biggest challenge was one of practical application, because, at the moment, "everybody does not play everybody". Still, he acknowledged such a model would provide the Test game with a "context" that would help generate greater interest.
"There would be more relevance and meaning for even a third game where I'm one country and you are second country and we are playing each other and all of our fans are interested. But my fans would also be interested in a game involving two other countries because that result might impact my country's progress. At the moment unless your home country is playing one doesn't have much consideration for any series involving other countries."

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