Protect Test cricket - Dravid

2011-12-15 07:30
Rahul Dravid (Gallo)

Sydney - Indian batting great Rahul Dravid has urged administrators to cut "meaningless" one-day cricket matches and work harder to win back fans to Tests, which he said remain the "gold standard" for players.

Dravid also cautioned against the menace of match-fixing while delivering the Sir Donald Bradman Oration at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on Wednesday night.

"Cricket must find a middle path," he said. "It must scale down this mad merry-go-round that teams and players find themselves in - heading off for two-Test tours and seven-match ODI series with a few Twenty20s thrown in."

Dravid, the first foreign player to deliver the commemorative lecture, said finding the right balance between the three formats was the biggest challenge for officials.

"Test cricket is the gold standard, it is the form the players want to play," the top-order batsman said, ahead of a four-Test series between India and Australia starting in Melbourne on December 26.

"It deserves to be protected, it is what the world's best know they will be judged by.

"We may not fill 65 000 capacity stadiums for Test matches, but we must actively fight to get as many as we can in, to create a Test match environment that the players and the fans feed off.

"Anything, but the sight of Tests played on empty grounds. For that, we have got to play Test cricket that people can watch."

Dravid said playing day-night Tests was a viable option.

"I don't think day-night Tests or a Test championship should be dismissed.

"In March last year, I played a day-night first-class game in Abu Dhabi for the MCC and my experience from that was that day-night Tests is an idea seriously worth exploring.

"There may be some challenges in places where there is dew but the visibility and durability of the pink cricket ball was not an issue."

Dwelling on the surfeit of ODI cricket, Dravid said the absence of crowds at India's home one-dayers against England in October should serve as a wake-up call for administrators.

"Since about, I think 1985, people have been saying that there is too much meaningless one-day cricket," he said. "Maybe it's finally time to do something about it.

"The India v England one-day series had no context, because the two countries had played each other in four Tests and five ODIs just a few weeks before.

"When India and the West Indies played one-dayers a month after that, the grounds were full, but this time matches were played in smaller venues that didn't host too much international cricket.

"Maybe our clues are all there and we must remain vigilant."

Following the Pakistan corruption scandal that rocked the sport this year, Dravid added that cricketers must be willing to give up "a little bit of freedom of movement and privacy" if it helped keep the game free of cheating.

"Dope tests, the possible scrutiny of finances, or even lie-detector tests may be necessary measures to keep the sport clean," he said, warning that players would have to sacrifice some privacy to stay ahead of the cheats.

"Cricket's financial success means it will face threats from outside the game and keep facing them," Dravid added. "The Internet and modern technology may just end up being a step ahead of every anti-corruption regulation in place in the game."

Dravid, who made his international debut in 1996, has scored 13 094 runs in 160 Tests at an average of 53.22 with 36 centuries.

He also has 10 889 runs from 344 one-dayers at 39.16 with 12 hundreds.

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