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Chennai: Matthew Hayden believes ICC’s Future Tours Programme (FTP) is outdated and needs to be remodelled to preserve Test cricket.
The former Australian opener favoured specific venue-designing for Test cricket. “If you look at the Boxing Day Test, it is an important social event where the family goes as part of the Christmas celebration.
“In Adelaide, the Test is a major social and sporting occasion for the entire city. Test cricket is truly iconic with its history, tradition and aura. It needs to be preserved.”
Hayden admitted that the FTP in its present form did not permit such venue-centred Test matches.
“When Sachin Tendulkar became the highest run-getter in Test cricket (in Mohali last season) there were only a handful of spectators in the stadium. So, something needs to be done.”
A revised FTP would have Test matches of greater quality and significance — at the right venue in the right time of the year — and might be lesser in number.Two-tier system
Hayden favoured the idea of having a two-tier system in Tests — the premier division might consist of the top five or six teams. In this format, sides could get promoted and relegated.
“We would have greater quality and intensity in the matches between the top teams while the lesser ranked sides would have the motivation to qualify for the premier division,” said Hayden.
In the city to coordinate with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to promote cricket and the franchise — he calls himself the Global ambassador for Twenty20 cricket — Hayden is looking for a tie-up with the CSK for the setting up of a cricket academy.
“The academy would follow the ‘Hayden Way’ on one’s approach to cricket and the life around it. The CSK is a premium brand, very much like Manchester United in football,” he said.
He denied that the top players were retiring from Test cricket due to the lure of the big bucks of the IPL.
“Andrew Flintoff’s decision to quit Test cricket after the Ashes was his own.
“I think the pride of playing for the country in Test cricket is intact. You can see it in the intensity of the ongoing Ashes. You talk to the cricketers and they look forward to the challenge of playing Test cricket all the time.”Musing on the Ashes
Talking about the Ashes, Hayden said it was too early to pass a verdict on the ability of opener Phillip Hughes and pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson.
“They were winning matches for us in South Africa and there is a long way to go in the series. Do not be led by what the English media is saying,” he said.
Hayden felt the Ashes has lived up to its billing so far in the series.
“The first two Tests had everything,” he added. He pointed out the series had been pretty even so far. “If you look at it session by session in the two Tests, there is not much between the sides.”
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