Graeme Smith urges ICC to bring in test championship


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June 24 (Reuters) - South Africa captain Graeme Smith wants the International Cricket Council (ICC) to introduce a new "test championship" at next week's annual general meeting in Singapore.

Smith, whose team will take a 1-0 lead into Saturday's third and final test against West Indies in Barbados, is concerned about the future of the five-day game with most series increasingly struggling to attract a significant audience.

"All our senior players support a formal test championship," he told Reuters by email from Bridgetown.

"Such a championship would give context and value to every test match and would stimulate interest in the five-day game worldwide."

The opening batsman offered a comparison with English Premier League soccer.

"It is important all test matches should have equal value and that is what a championship would do," said Smith.

"If you look at the Premiership in England, for example, Manchester United pick up three points for a win whether it is against (champions) Chelsea or one of the relegation strugglers.

"I believe a test championship is a matter of urgency to stimulate the five-day game."

The ICC's member nations have previously rejected several suggested test championship formats but the latest, a watered-down compromise, could be adopted.

If it is introduced, the top-four ranked test teams would play semi-finals and a final every four years over 18 days to decide the winners.