Adelaide, Jan.27: Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting is not keen tinkering with the Sheffield Shield, not even Jamie Cox's proposal to play August/September matches in the Top End. Ponting believes such a step, would dilute the competition by taking young players away from the traditional venues and pitches that have helped give Australian players such a challenging and varied education over many years.
"There seems to be a lot of talk about ways and means of making the Big Bash bigger and devoting more time to Twenty20," Ponting said.
"If I think about moving (Shield) games to the Top End, you're going to lose something there somewhere. Those young guys are not going to get the chance to play at the MCG, SCG, those sort of venues, or play at the Gabba early season when the wicket's green. Those are the things that have made Australian Test players as good as they are because of the way they've learned to adapt to different conditions, in the conditions you play Test matches," Ponting added.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Australian selector Cox has suggested northern venues such as Darwin, Cairns, and Townsville could be utilised and host early season Shield matches, as administrators look for ways to create a calendar window to expand the increasingly popular T20 interstate (Big Bash) competition.
Ponting's hard-line stance against any sort of change to the Shield may be overtaken by the commercial mores of administrators, but for now he is making his influential voice heard.