Future of Test cricket hangs in the balance, warns Imran Khan

Press Releasein Cricket

Imran Khan on Monday launched a passionate defence of Test cricket and warned it "could die" as a sporting force if it is not protected from the advance of Twenty20.

Imran used the MCC's annual Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's to warn the game's administrators that unless they radically restructure international cricket the best players will retire to earn vast sums playing in tournaments such as the Indian Premier League.

Dire forecasts about the future of Test cricket have been a regular theme for former players over the past three years but Imran is the most high-profile figure to add his weight to an issue that will shape cricket for the next generation.

He was speaking just days after Shahid Afridi resigned as the captain of Pakistan, a team Imran led in 48 Tests, to concentrate on his one-day career. Shaun Tait, the Australian fast bowler, has been arguably the summer's most exciting player but he too refuses to put his body through the exertions of five-day cricket. Understandable perhaps after he signed a $375,000 deal to play in the IPL for the Rajasthan Royals.

Imran's solution is to abandon the 50-over format to free up time in the calendar for more Test cricket. But, as usual, one barrier prevents that from happening - money. England's five-match series against the Australians was a huge success at the box office and while Test cricket remains popular in England, in other parts of the world it attracts crowds akin to County Championship matches.

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