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ICC under fire

THE ICC in its 96 years of existence has encountered many thorny issues, some of which they have tackled tactfully and the others, left open to widespread criticism from both cricketers and administrators alike the world over.

The contentious issue at hand is to do with the granting of official status to the Johnnie Walker Test and one-day series between Australia and the Rest of the World which has come for severe criticism from past and present cricketer alike.

Australian vice captain Adam Gilchrist said: "Test matches are about representing your country. We are doing that, but they (World XI) are not. I believe that Test match status is country versus country for a lot of the historical reasons."

Gilchrist further stated that the sanctity of international cricket should be preserved and these matches should not have been given international status.

The Australian wicket-keeper/batsman expressed the same views about the sellout tsunami relief match at the MCG on January 10 between a World XI and an Asia XI.

Another Australian stalwart former captain Allan Border also spoke on similar lines and considered it a "slap on the face" of all former cricketers.

"I firmly believe that cricket is an institution that has been built up over a period of 128 years, and it should not be tampered with. In my view the elevation of the six-day game to 'Test match' status is like a slap in the face of all the former cricketers who have contributed to making Test cricket the ultimate form of the game since 1877," said Border.

Another former cricketing great South African opener Barry Richards was of the opinion that if official recognition is given to the ongoing matches then the series played by the Rest of the World in England and in Australia should also be given the same status.

"I think everybody knows (about it). The people who made the decision to not make those matches official obviously didn't know anything about cricket because that was the most competitive cricket that I played. The ICC makes some very funny decisions at times," said Richards.

The series between the World XI (or Rest of the World) played in England and in Australia in 1970 and 1971-72 produced some of the best cricket ever witnessed.

Both series came in the wake of cancellation of tours to those countries by South Africa, whose government earned the wrath of every cricket nation for their apartheid policies.

The main attraction in the star studded World teams was none other than West Indian Garry Sobers who was captain. He led the World team to a 4-1 and 2-1 triumph over the two oldest rivals of the game in a series of five tests termed unofficial. While England handed out caps to their players for appearing in the series, the World team's performances did not get the merit it deserved.

Sobers single-handedly guided his team's fortunes despite the presence of a galaxy of super stars in his multi-national team like Clive Lloyd, Mike Procter, Eddie Barlow, Barry Richards, Rohan Kanhai, Graeme Pollock, Mushtaq Mohammed, Lance Gibbs, Tony Greig, Zaheer Abbas, Sunil Gavaskar to name a few.

He scored 588 runs (avg. 73.50) and captured 21 wickets (avg. 21.52) against England and followed it up with 341 runs (avg. 48.71) and 9 wickets (48.33) against Australia.

It was his double century (254) against Australia at Melbourne that was the piece de resistance and earned the following comments from Sri Donald Bradman: "I believe Gary Sobers' innings was probably the best ever seen in Australia. The people who saw Sobers have enjoyed one of the historic events of cricket, they were privileged to have such an experience."

If such masterpieces are not give due recognition, what is the criteria the ICC is adopting in granting recognition to the on-going matches which so far has not come as anywhere close to those played 30 years ago?

This is not the first time the ICC, the world governing body for cricket has come under fire from cricketers and administrators alike.

Their experimental rule with regard to the use of super subs in one-day matches has not met with the desired acceptance from captains notably New Zealand's Stephen Fleming who has been critical of it saying that it favoured the side winning the toss.

The Pakistan Cricket Board said that it would oppose the super-sub rule at the ICC executive board meeting in Sydney later this month.

"We don't like this substitution rule because we feel it is complicating cricket. We should oppose its introduction," the PCB chairman Shahariyar Khan was quoted by a news agency. There is never a dull moment with the ICC.

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