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'I wouldn't have minnows in World Cup'

Ace batsman Ricky Ponting ridiculed the idea that sides like Bermuda and Ireland will have to face up to the might of Australia and India in the Caribbean.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 19:49 IST

The Cricket World Cup in the West Indies next year may feature as many as seven nations not playing Test matches at present, but the idea has not gone down well with Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

"I would not have minnow nations in the World Cup and the Champions' Trophy," Ponting said.

The captain of the world champion team also said he did not like playing Tests against weaker oppositions.

"I would not have Bangladesh and Zimbabwe playing Tests at present," he was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.

The International Cricket Council is also gradually coming around to that view.

At its recent Chief Executives' Committee meeting, it was proposed that the Champions Trophy be restricted to the top eight teams from 2008 onwards.

As things stand now, the four groups at the World Cup in the Caribbean bear a lop-sided look with two stronger teams pooled together with two minnows.

It is a moot point how sides like Bermuda, Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands wil face up to the might of Australia, Pakistan, India, South Africa and England.

Of the 10 Test-playing teams, Zimbabwe has withdrawn itself from Test cricket for the time being due to the internal turmoil in the country's cricket board.

Bangladesh has only one Test victory till date, against the African minnows at home.

Ponting is otherwise satisfied with the international cricket calendar set by the game's governing body.

"I think the international schedule is about right, with 30 one-dayers and 15 Tests a year," he said but added that "the amount of travel we have to do" was the toughest part of his sporting life.

About the highlights of his illustrious career, he said being on the winning side at two of the three World Cup finals was a special feeling.

Ponting, enjoying a purple patch in his career, also mentioned his 100th Test against South Africa in Sydney last month when he scored a hundred in both innings of the match.

On the other hand, "losing the Ashes last summer, and before that losing the World Cup final" were the worst sporting moments for the Tasmanian.

The Eden Gardens figures in Ponting's list of favourite grounds for the passion of the supporters in the City of Joy, but his top two remain the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Sydney Cricket Ground. "They have a terrific atmosphere."

He also enjoys playing at Cape Town, "which has a wonderful setting" while Lord's is the "historical home of cricket".

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 19:49 IST