Maxwell calls for hard line on stars to make Tests priority

CRICKET AUSTRALIA needs to get tough with its stars who insist on playing in the Twenty20 Indian Premier League and no longer issue them lucrative contracts, veteran ABC radio commentator Jim Maxwell has warned.

Concerned about the future health of Test cricket and the performance of the national team, Maxwell also fears the game is at risk because ''marketing people'' without appreciation of its history and tradition are increasingly calling the shots and have been seduced by T20 and revenue from T20-mad India.

Mr Maxwell said Test cricket was the ''guts of the game''.

''It is the real test. It runs the risk of being a bit overwhelmed by the desire for greater audiences, greater revenue,'' he said. ''If Cricket Australia really wants to protect its interests and its players, I would have thought they would say to those who wish to go and play in the IPL [Indian Premier League], 'OK, well you're no longer on contract, you'll be paid match by match.' ''

The comments follow an article in the new ABC Cricket magazine, where Maxwell writes of players being distracted by the rewards of the IPL.

The chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association, Paul Marsh, said: ''The suggestion that players should have their Cricket Australia contracts ripped up if they play in the IPL is neither realistic or sensible. Whilst I agree that the players' No.1 priority continues to be Test cricket, the reality is that there are now three forms of the game and the players have been strongly encouraged by those running the game … to play all three forms.''

Monday will also mark a year since the controversial death of ABC cricket commentator and Fairfax columnist Peter Roebuck.

Roebuck died in Cape Town while covering an Australian tour of South Africa. Maxwell said it was sad nothing had been done to honour his legacy. He said Roebuck's family, Somerset cricket club, Fairfax and the ABC needed to create something ''in his memory''.

South African police said Roebuck committed suicide by jumping from a hotel window after officers went to interview him about a complaint he had indecently assaulted a young black man.

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