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ICC should fix Windies club v country row – Clarke

Michael Clarke

Sydney :  The world governing body should do more to prevent a repeat of the club versus country player crisis that threatens to turn the West Indies-Australia Test series into a farce, Michael Clarke said today.

The former Australian skipper said international cricket must remain the priority for players over participation in the raft of lucrative global Twenty20 tournaments now available to high-profile stars.

But he accepts Tests will only remain the pinnacle of the game if authorities find a balance that allows top players to also take part in competitions such as the Indian Premier League and Australia’s current Big Bash League.

“The players that are here playing in the BBL (Big Bash League) I think it’s really disappointing they’re not part of the West Indies Test team,” the recently retired Clarke told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“There’s a number of players in Australia who would be in their number one picked Test team. I think it’s disappointing for the game and Test match cricket.

“I’d like to see that changed. That will come down to the ICC (International Cricket Council) and West Indies Cricket Board trying to get together to make it work.”

The worst fears for the West Indies series in Australia were realised when they crashed to an innings defeat inside three days in the first Test in Hobart last week.

There is little confidence the Caribbean tourists can lift their game for the feature Boxing Day and New Year Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.

Anticipated easy wins for Australia has also turned off fans, with speculation that the Boxing Day crowd on Australian cricket’s biggest day of the calendar could be the lowest in 16 years.

While there is widespread discontent with the West Indies board, a lack of money in the Caribbean game is also seen as a key factor for many senior players turning their backs on Tests to chase the riches on offer in T20s.

The Windies’ national team are playing the three-Test series without former captains Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy who are all on duty with their Australian Big Bash franchises, along with fellow Windies players Andre Russell, Samuel Badree and Lendl Simmons.

“I think international cricket has to be the priority,” said Clarke, who rarely played in domestic T20 competitions during his Test career.

“T20 tournaments are important and fantastic to watch, but I think there’s nothing more special than representing your country.”

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