Warne wants ICC action to preserve Test cricket's future

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  • The supersonic rise of Twenty20 over the past decade and the lucrative financial gains on offer have hit five-day contests hard.

    Falling attendances and the lack of competitive action on the field between some nations have cast a strong shadow over Tests with five-match series now a novel concept reserved only for the Ashes.

    For Warne, a man who cemented his legendary status by claiming 708 Test wickets in 145 outings for Australia, the future is not bright for the format he once thrived in.

    “Test cricket is in trouble, it’s as simple as that,” the 47-year-old, who was in Dubai yesterday to promote the city’s new Advanced Hair Studio, exclusively told Sport360.

    “If we’re not careful, Test cricket won’t be here and around for much longer. You might have your iconic series like the Ashes but people aren’t turning up to watch.”

    The leg-spinning great has urged cricket’s governing body to harness more of its power, although he admits that can be difficult with the control respective boards retain.

    Warne cited the lack of consistency in DRS use, as one example, that affects the level-playing field cricket has to offer.

    And with plans to host the inaugural ICC World Test Championship next year shelved for now – changes are not being implemented quickly enough.

    “I think there should be a financial component to Test cricket for the champions, whoever is top of a potential Test championship over a two-year cycle,” added Warne, who signed off from international cricket in 2007 after Australia’s 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England.

    “The winning team can do whatever they want with the big cash incentive but let’s encourage people to play Test cricket in an entertaining way.

    “The ICC should pay for DRS to be used across the board and it shouldn’t be up to the TV networks in each country to foot the bill. It needs to be consistent and until that happens it’s not balanced.

    “Everybody should be equal but obviously Australia, India and England bring in the crowds and the television revenue – they’ve got a huge advantage.

    “We shouldn’t be forgetting about the likes of Pakistan who are doing a wonderful job, as it’s not easy not being able to play in front of your own supporters.”

    The advent of day-night Test cricket did not boost attendances during the first Pakistan and West Indies Test match in Dubai.

    This may not be a good overall marker of the pink-ball product given it was deemed a success on debut in Adelaide last year as Australia hosted New Zealand, but Warne insists the Test match spectacle has to improve and modernise to get people into grounds – just like T20.

    He has embraced 20-over cricket as much as anyone else given his involvement with the IPL and last year’s Cricket All Stars trip with Sachin Tendulkar.

    He added: “Cricket is one of, if not the most, participated sport in the world. That’s why myself and Sachin spread the word. It can’t be about a few countries, we have to grow the game.”