ECB summit aims to keep Test matches at pinnacle

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The Independent Online

The England and Wales Cricket Board will hold a conference next month to discuss all aspects of Test cricket, ranging from issues on the field to the prices of tickets, with the aim of preserving the primacy of that form of the game.

Members of the England team and former England cricketers, as well as the chief executives and directors of cricket at each of the 18 counties, will attend the meeting in Leicester on 19 January. "I am absolutely determined that we will start creating a sensible, proper strategy for this format of the game," said Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB. "It has been impossible to run something like that in the last year, with too many events cascading on one another. We have spent an awful lot of time talking about Twenty20 and it is absolutely high time that we talked about Test cricket, which is a huge part of our revenue. It is a major thing for our supporters and we are seen as the flag bearers of Test cricket in certain countries around the world.

"We must take out all that desperate personality-driven stuff and say what are the right things for cricket. One of my jobs as chairman concerns where the game wants to go. Cricket has seen a tremendous upheaval because of Twenty20, it has caused a huge change in values and income, and it is important we think about Test cricket. I hope this is the start of closer relationships between the board and counties, directors of cricket, players and former players, which we do not have enough involved in the administration and management of the game."

One of the major talking points will be the quality of Test cricket and the fact that there are too many one-sided series containing ill-matched teams. In an attempt to address that problem, England will not play Zimbabwe until they are judged to have reached a reasonable standard. England are committed to playing Bangladesh at the start of the 2010 season but there is talk about future Test series between the two sides, for financial as well as cricketing reasons, only taking place in Bangladesh.

"If we are going to have a proper strategy for Test cricket we want to have games like that we have just had in Chennai," Clarke said. "It showed everybody just what a Test can be. There is a very hard-fought game between Australia and South Africa taking place in Perth at the moment. We have to make sure that the standard is there. Our friends in India feel pretty similarly."