Waugh says Ashes tour was too long

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The captain of the victorious Australians, Steve Waugh, has described most county matches on the Ashes tour as "a waste of time". Waugh, who led his side to a 4-1 Ashes victory, said future tours must be reduced in duration.

"Three months is just too long to be away, I think, and it can be unhealthy for everyone," he said. "You are in very close proximity to all the squad and it's a long time to be together and people obviously are missing their families.

"So I think in future some of the county games are not needed. They are a waste of time, basically, half of them. Probably only two or three were good matches."

Australia played 21 matches on their tour, including six three or four-day matches against county opposition.

In Pakistan, a government inquiry has been launched into allegations of match-fixing during two of Pakistan's games at the 1999 World Cup.

Neither defeat affected the team's qualification for the semi-finals, and Pakistan went on to lose a one-sided final to Australia.

Suspicions of foul play in the matches were first voiced by the head of South African cricket, Ali Bacher, last year.

Pakistan has already held a 17-month judicial probe into match-fixing, headed by Justice Malik Muhammad Qayyum.

It recommended a life ban for the former captain, Salim Malik, as well as fines for Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

In Multan, Bangladesh face a struggle to avoid defeat against Pakistan after slipping to 55 for 3 at the close of day two in the Asian Test Championship. They are 357 runs behind their hosts' first innings total of 546 for 3 declared.

Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yousuf Youhana, Abdur Razzaq and debutant Taufeeq Umar all reached three figures to join Wednesday's centurion Saeed Anwar.

In Colombo, Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene batted Sri Lanka into a strong position at the end of the second day of the deciding third and final Test against India.

Atapattu scored his seventh Test century as Sri Lanka reached stumps on 323 for 5, a lead of 89. Jayawardene finished the day just five runs short of joining Atapattu on seven Test hundreds.