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'Cricket's golden era is ending'
Tony Jimenez | February 07, 2007 16:02 IST
A golden era in cricket is ending and top Test teams need to find young players to replace their retiring big names, says International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed.
"We're in a golden era at the moment with a number of great players coming to the end of their careers ... Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Shaun Pollock to name but a few," Speed said on the sidelines of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament.
"All great players with great records. The challenge now is for the teams to replace those players quickly and to maintain their momentum."
Speed said Australia showed the way in the recent 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England.
"Australia have done it very well, bringing in Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke and a couple of young players," said the 58-year-old Speed. "That's the start of the challenge."
Although the visiting England team have been heavily criticised for their drubbing, Speed said no one could ignore the strength of Ricky Ponting's side.
"We should not underestimate the brilliance of this Australian team," said Speed.
"I thought that was exemplified when Damien Martyn retired halfway through the Ashes series and the team seemed to get better when one of their good batsmen left.
"It is a great Australian team, one that was on a mission (after losing the 2005 Ashes series in England). The England side were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Speed said the now-retired Warne, one of the architects of Australia's Ashes rout, would be a hard act to follow.
"I think Shane's picked the right time to retire but he will be very difficult to replace," said the Australian.
"There are several leg spinners playing cricket around the world now so hopefully that's part of Shane's legacy.
"Leg spin is perhaps the most fascinating part of the game for the spectator to watch," he said. "The battle between bat and ball where all of the elements come into play, the state of the pitch, state of the match.
"A great leg spinner in action delights cricket fans around the world. It is one of those aspects of the game which is so different from any other sport."
Speed, who will attend the ICC's final pre-World Cup board meeting in Trinidad on Friday, commended the timing of the retirements of Warne and McGrath.
Paceman McGrath will follow the lead of his leg-spinning countryman by bowing out after the World Cup in the Caribbean which starts next month.
"They are two great players who have served their country for many, many years," said Speed. "It is good to see players retiring on their own terms, with people asking them why they are retiring, rather than why they are not retiring.
"It is always pleasing to see that with great players like Glenn and Shane."