Australia favours keeping easy-beats in Tests

Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Brisbane:Australia supports the principle of keeping easy-beats Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in Test cricket but wants to better manage its future contests with team, Cricket Australia (CA) said.

CA chief executive James Sutherland has voiced his support for the retention of the two Test strugglers, saying a sport with only 10 Test-status nations cannot afford to dump teams.

But Sutherland indicated the world champion's bulging schedule of 17 Tests and about 34 One-dayers scheduled in five different countries over the next 11 months was not ideal.

He said CA needed to "explore" how to fulfil obligations to the International Cricket Council's (ICC) itinerary but not burn out its leading players.

"There are all sorts of things that have to be balanced when you're considering how you manage your (international) program," Sutherland said on Tuesday.

"We will continue to look at that both from the context of who we play and when we play them, but also individually with players themselves in terms of managing their own workloads so that they don't get too much of a burden."

The debate over Zimbabwe and Bangladesh's inclusion in Test cricket intensified after Bangladesh was pulverised inside three days by England last weekend.

Respected Australian commentator Richie Benaud said the match was an "absolute shambles" and called for both countries to be kicked out.

Sutherland would not make a judgment about Bangladesh, who broke through for a maiden Test win against a depleted Zimbabwe in January.

"They have (Test) status and we have commitments under the future tour programs to play against those countries," he said.

"It's something that we see that we need to do (to fulfil) obligations contractually, but also to develop the game worldwide.

"Ten countries isn't a lot of countries to be registered Test-playing countries and in order for the game to continue to grow ... it's important that countries like Bangladesh are given the best possible opportunity to do that."

Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore has insisted calls for the Asian country to be stripped of its senior international status are folly.

"Trying to achieve what everyone wants us to achieve is tough but to solely take Bangladesh out of international status full representation is just pure folly, ridiculous. We need to have a means to an end," Whatmore said.

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