|Clive Lloyd & Sourav Ganguly
London: Sourav Ganguly and Clive Lloyd, two of the most successful captains cricket has seen, differed on the future of Test cricket on Thursday.
The West Indies World Cup-winning captain Lloyd expressed fears that the amount of money generated by Twenty20 tournaments would tempt cricketers to retire from Tests as Andrew Flintoff did recently.
But former India captain Sourav refused to paint a gloomy picture of Test cricket, saying the five-day game does not have a serious threat from other formats and for a player, it will always be the ultimate form of cricket.
Test cricket will survive with the other forms cricket, Sourav, here for the International Cricket Councils History Conference at Oxford, said. Test cricket is the ultimate form of cricket and I know for sure, players will be remembered with what they do in Test matches.
Lloyd said Flintoff has set a dangerous precedent by quitting Test cricket for the lure of Twenty20 and the money it offers.
Would some of these guys have retired if there was no Twenty20? It is obvious if Im being paid $1.5m and I dont have to put in too much work, then, yes, Ill go the other way, Lloyd said at the conference.
It is a bit unfortunate that Flintoff decided to leave Test cricket. He knows his body and knows how bad his ankle is, but he is a tremendous cricketer. But the point is he is not going to play for Lancashire — he will play for England in the ODIs and Twenty20. Its going to destroy the fabric of the game, remarked the former West Indies captain.
Worried that more players may go the Flintoff way, Lloyd said he would be happy if international cricketers retired late.
When a player retires in his prime and when you have poured all that money on him to get him where he is now and then he leaves, that is a bother for me. Like Dwayne Bravo, if he decides to leave halfway (into his career), that is not a situation I would like. I would like a situation where people leave later and there is a natural progression of young players. But I can tell you there are a few more people coming up shortly to announce retirements if this goes on, he warned.
Citing the example of the current West Indies side, who are good in Twenty20 but have been struggling in Tests, Lloyd said the huge amount of money being paid in lucrative Twenty20 tournaments is affecting the traditional format of the game.
We are suffering at the moment and I think other countries, too, might. We are paying guys an obscene amount of money — $60,000 for one Twenty20 game when he might not bat or bowl. It is destroying the other two forms of the game. If Test cricket is the type of cricket we want people to recognise the game by, then we have to put a little bit more money on it so that players are better paid. We cant just think it will chug along.
Sourav, meanwhile, praised the current Indian team under Mahendra Singh Dhoni and said the side has what it takes to be at the top of world cricket.
India are a fantastic team at present. If they keep performing as they have in the last two or probably three, four, five years, they will definitely be the No.1 team in the world, Sourav said.
Sourav had some special word of praise for Gautam Gambhir, who recently rose to the No.1 spot in the ICC rankings for Test batsmen.
Gambhir and Dhoni are fantastic players. I am particularly very happy to see Gambhir getting there, being the No.1 Test batsman because thats what complete batting is all about, Ganguly said. I have seen him young, he is a left-hander and it is great to see him do well for India, he added.