Another Kerry Packer show in offing: Richards

Published: Monday, May 10, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:Former South African batsman Barry Richards warned that one-sided cricket matches and rows over player salaries could see the game's best players drawn away from Test cricket.

"Test status should carry the responsibility of being competitive, if it doesn't there is every chance that another Kerry Packer scenario could evolve," Richards told a cricket seminar arranged by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) on Sunday.

Australian media tycoon Packer organised World Series Cricket in late 1970s by paying players more than they used to get from their home country boards.

"Continually serving up one-sided international games does no good for the credibility of the game for television, sponsors and spectators want top games," said Richards, who played four Tests in 1969-70 before South Africa was banned over its policy of apartheid.

Zimbabwe, who became the ninth Test nation, were whitewashed 5-0 in One-dayers and thrashed by an innings by Sri Lanka in the first of two Tests in their home series.

Bangladesh, who became the tenth Test nation in 2000, has not won a Test in 28 attempts.

"I believe ICC must be vigilant in ensuring that Test cricket remains the best it can be, and Test cricket should not be compromised and the gulf between the teams is ever widening."

Richards said players and administrators have had different views.

"Players felt administrators were there for the kudos and the administrators felt players were greedy for wanting to be professionals and be paid for what they are good at."

Richards, a dashing opener who also played for Packer, said professionalism isn't harmful.

"No, on the contrary there is probably not enough professionalism," he said.

"Players' payment and rights have been an issue for sometime now, very publicly highlighted during the World Cup 2003 and administrators have been slow to respond to the question of fairness of payment to players."

A players' contract row erupted before last year's World Cup when Indian players initially objected to the contract, which prohibited them from endorsing products conflicting with the interests of official sponsors.

"A possible starting point could be 20 percent of television revenues to go to players. Perhaps 55 of that 20 goes to top players and the remaining 45 goes to other levels to foster the game.

"Anything less would be unfair and players have every right to expect transparency in the revenue which is being generated by them," said Richards.

ICC president Ehsan Mani said the ICC has given players the right to voice their concerns.

"We realise players should have a voice in the game and that's why ICC has given them representation in various committees," he said.

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