Tue, Jul 06, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Cricket Australia to seek official status for world XI games

AFP , MELBOURNE

Cricket Australia will press the International Cricket Council (ICC) to give next year's matches against the Rest of the World official status.

Australia are likely to face a composite world XI in three one-day matches in Melbourne and a six-day Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in October next year in the ICC's inaugural Super Series championship. The one-day matches will be played on Oct. 5, 7 and 9 and the Test from Oct. 13.

The ICC has promised to keep the international calendar clear to guarantee players like the West Indies' Brian Lara, Indians Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, Pakistan express bowler Shoaib Akhtar and Sri Lankan offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan can all play against Ricky Ponting's champion side.

Australia have not yet confirmed their place in the matches, but can do so by avoiding big defeats in the coming series against India, New Zealand and Pakistan and retain their place on top of the ICC's Test and one-day international ladders by April 1.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said he will urge the ICC to give the matches official Test and one-day status, as opposed to exhibition games.

"I think the matches are big enough and worthy enough of having official status so they do go in the record books," Sutherland said here yesterday. "That's something we'll certainly be talking to the ICC about to see if they can readdress that issue."

That view was supported by Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden, who said the concept gives his team extra incentive to remain on top.

"I'd prefer to see it have Test match status," Hayden said in Darwin yesterday. "I think it's an excellent opportunity and a great honor for Australian cricket. It's unique ... a genuine best of the era of the side versus what's been a really great Australian cricket side. It begs to be a great competition."

Australia outbid South Africa and India to host the series, which could attract millions of television viewers.

It also gives the world's best players some rich incentives -- there is A$1.4 million (US$980,000) in prize money for grabs in the Test and A$1 million (US$700,000) for the one-day series.

The Docklands stadium roof and an extra day in the Sydney Test will also ensure weather doesn't have a major disruptive influence. The selection criteria for the world XI and the team's coach and captain are yet to be determined, but Sutherland said the concept had the support of all cricket nations, who had vowed to make their best players available.

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