| Lillee sees a two-tier system as essential for Test cricket
Perth: Legendary Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee Tuesday accused the ICC of placing television-generated revenue ahead of the credibility of the sport. Citing next month’s two Australia-Bangladesh Tests in Australia as an example of a serious mis-match, Lillee said pitting struggling countries against the game’s giants made a mockery of records.
“Playing against Bangladesh — which has suffered 18 defeats, 13 by an innings, from 19 Tests — is nothing more than a golden opportunity to get some easy wickets, easy runs and easy money,” he wrote in The West Australian.
“I’m not against progress, but involving struggling countries in quality events such as the World Cup and Tests simply makes a mockery of records,” said Lillee, who captured 355 wickets in 70 Tests between 1970 and 1984.
“It became obvious to me, after watching the World Cup earlier this year and the indifferent performances from some teams, that the game is degenerating into a money-driven event because of television.
“Is the ICC more concerned about keeping Test cricket elite, or developing the game purely to maximise TV revenue without the slightest concern about compromising the structure and history of the game'”
Lillee said ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed and “his cronies” should seriously consider a structure in which lesser, or under-performing, nations spent time in a second division in which wickets and runs counted as first-class statistics but were not included in Test records. “A promotion and relegation system along those lines would keep all Test playing aspirants honest and ensure Test statistics remained credible,” he said.
“Nobody worked harder than Courtney Walsh for his world record 519 wickets, but he is going to be absolutely swamped because of what’s up for grabs these days.”
Bangladesh arrived in Australia Monday to start preparing for the Tests in Darwin on July 18-22 and Cairns on July 25-29. Both venues will be staging their first Tests. Bangladesh and Australia will be meeting in Tests for the first time.