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Smith calls for Twenty20 rethink

Source - news.com.au

South Africa captain Graeme Smith has called on the International Cricket Council to rethink its recommendation that a world championship of the Twenty20 format be added to the elite-level schedule.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith has called on the International Cricket Council to rethink its recommendation that a world championship of the Twenty20 format be added to the elite-level schedule.

Following a meeting of the game's powerbrokers from individual Test and affiliate nations last month, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed confirmed there was growing interest in staging a "World Cup-style" tournament of the 20-over format.

That concept will be put to the vote at a scheduled ICC board meeting in Dubai next month.

If supported, discussions would begin immediately as to how and when such a competition could be introduced. While the game's governing body has indicated such a tournament could take place as early as next year, influential administrators in India and Pakistan have said they are not in favour.

Smith, who led South Africa in today's Twenty20 international against Australia at Wanderers Stadium here, yesterday added his voice to the dissenters.

He claimed the benefit of Twenty20 cricket (or Pro20 as it is known in South Africa) was to promote the game at grass roots level and provide much-needed revenue and exposure for players and clubs on the rungs below the international scene. "My opinion on the Pro-20 is that it is better suited at the international level like it is now, starting off a tour," Smith said.

"To make it a part of the international schedule would, I think, be a mistake.

"At international level, one-day cricket is sustainable and I think (the 20-over game) should stay as a tour opener.

"And we're lacking a lot of time in the schedule at the moment, as well.

"I would hate to see where the ICC is going to try to fit it in at the moment. Maybe we would have to field totally different teams for Pro-20 (matches)."

Australia captain Ricky Ponting has previously warned too much Twenty20 cricket would ensure the game became "stale" because of the sameness of the stand-and-slog manner in which it is played.

But he claimed yesterday that if the game's powerbrokers were to push on with plans to formalise the scheduling of Twenty20 matches (which are at the whim of individual national boards) then Australia would have to take it more seriously.

In previous Twenty20 games, the Australians have taken a light-hearted approach by donning retro-style clothing (against New Zealand last month) and shirts bearing player nicknames (against South Africa in Brisbane last month).

Yesterday, Ponting reaffirmed his view that the 20-over game should be retained at international level as a novelty fixture.

"My position hasn't changed, but it might have to change a little bit as we go on," Ponting said. "If we're going to be playing more and more of it, we're going to have to look at starting to take the game a bit more seriously."

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