LONDON: Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan launched a passionate defence of Test cricket and warned it "could die" as a sporting force if it is not protected from the advance of Twenty20.
Imran used MCC's annual Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's to warn the game's administrators that unless they radically restructure international cricket the best players will retire to earn vast sums playing in tournaments such as Indian Premier League.
Imran's solution is to abandon 50-over format to free up time in calendar for more Test cricket. But, as usual, one barrier prevents that from happening - money. England's five-match series against Australians was a huge success at box office and while Test cricket remains popular in England, in other parts of the world it attracts crowds akin to County Championship matches.
The calendar is already being carved up in an ad hoc way, dictated by money and short-term compromise," he said. "We need to sit down and come up with a coherent long-term strategy – a worldwide calendar of attractive events that both appeal to spectators and preserve Test cricket and future of our game as a whole.”
"Soon you will find a lot of players skipping series – key players - simply because of amount of cricket. Some sort of football-style squad rotation will come in soon, especially for fast bowlers. Wicket-keepers, too, may be prime candidates for rotation, because of intense concentration they have to have on every ball. So I think in certain cases they will have to give them breaks, given the cluttered international calendar. And yet in six weeks of playing Twenty20 cricket in IPL, some players made more money than I made in my whole 21 years of international cricket. If you have that sort of money available, a player can first make his name in Test cricket and then retire and save himself for Twenty20.”
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