An Indian entrepreneur who persuaded superstars Shane Warne and Brian Lara to play in quickfire matches denied Sunday that shortened versions of cricket herald the slow death of Tests.
Harsh Sabale, the wealthy 33-year-old businessman who owns the rights to the Hong Kong Sixes for eight years, has signed a deal with ESPN television to broadcast the action to millions of fans across Asia.
Warne, Lara and other stars such as Glenn McGrath and Anil Kumble are in the hunt for a winners' cheque of 100,000 dollars -- and Sabale has vowed to boost the total prize money to a staggering one million dollars next year.
"There are already 25 million cable TV homes in India and we are getting very good feedback from interest in the Sixes," Sabale said on Sunday, the final day of this year's ten-team, 21-match tournament.
"People are loving it in India, where they say it looks excellent and has the same appearance of any full international tournament."
Sabale, who is based in Hong Kong, welcomed India's booming interest in Twenty20 cricket after the nation's win at the recent world championships, but said Test matches must remain the game's priority.
"I'm a cricket fanatic," he said. "And I think concerns that the Sixes and Twenty20 will damage Test cricket are not correct.
"One-day cricket has its place, and so does Test cricket. Test matches are the first form of the game, and they will continue to hold that position because they really prove a cricketer's metal and other forms do not do that.
"The Sixes is an entertainment package where a fun weekend of cricket is our only aim," said Sabale.
"We want this tournament to have a much higher profile and we are very encouraged for the future by the big-name stars we have attracted, and the enthusiasm of the crowds and TV viewers."
The tournament, first held in 1992, produces frenetic cricket in which six-a-side teams bat for only five overs each innings and every fielder has to bowl, apart from the wicketkeeper.
It has a strong record of securing the game's greatest names, with Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar and Andrew Flintoff all appearing in past years.