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August 19, 2009

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Hadlee makes an appeal to save tests

SIR Richard Hadlee, one of cricket's greatest allrounders, is making another strong appeal to the decision makers: don't betray our game.

Cricket is in danger of being consumed by Twenty20, Hadlee says, while its guardians are distracted by the new income and booming popularity of the shortest form of the international game.

Hadlee, who has legendary status in his native New Zealand, said the exponential growth of T20, particularly the Indian Premier League, had the potential to destroy the more traditional forms of cricket and - when its popularity eventually waned - the sport itself.

"The IPL is franchise cricket, it's club cricket, it is not international cricket," Hadlee said yesterday.

"We are two years into it and you can see potentially that there will be more and more of it. It will consume the game. Once it has gone too far and people have grown bored with it, it will have destroyed test cricket and probably 50-over cricket."

Hadlee said the International Cricket Council had to act to deal with increasing problems of congested match schedules caused by the emergence of T20. The possibility the IPL might increase from 56 to 90 games and its playing window from six to eight weeks would only make the situation more difficult, he said.

"We are in grave danger of having the decision makers betraying the game of cricket," he said. "Everything evolves and things keep changing but this is a revolution within the game. "It's new, marketable, successful and brings in huge money. The danger is overkill, that you have too much of it and it swamps other forms of the game and compromises them.

"If one format of the game like Twenty20 consumes the game as much as it is doing now - and potentially in the future - it is destroying the game of cricket as a total concept."

"I think test cricket needs to be protected, because it remains the ultimate game and I think a lot of players today would say they enjoy test cricket more than anything else," Hadlee said. "The point is they are also faced with the other forms of the game where for less effort the rewards are 10 times greater."


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