Hadlee says face of world cricket would be different without India's presence

The former New Zealand all-rounder also admitted that it was too difficult at this stage to predict a winner in the India-New Zealand World Test Championships final.

The legendary Kiwi cricketer also said Test cricket still remained the format to play for him personally.   -  Rajneesh Londhe

Former New Zealand all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee hailed Team India for making an outstanding contribution to the longest format of the game.

India and New Zealand will be locking horns in the upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final, slated to begin on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

"There is no doubt India produces a lot of revenue for cricket especially through television rights, sponsorships, advertising, attracting big crowds, and through tournaments like IPL, etc. Without India, the face of world cricket would be very different, therefore cricket needs India," Hadlee said in an official ICC release."

"India has made an outstanding contribution to Test cricket -- in fact, all formats of the game. Their Test performances in Australia were outstanding even though they had that blip and were bowled out for 36.

They bounced back superbly well, and Test cricket came alive again -- it attracted a lot of interest and their performances in Australia was a remarkable achievement especially with so many youngsters having to come into the team and perform.

India has a great depth of talented players in all formats of the game, waiting for their chances to be selected and show the world what they have to offer," he added.

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When asked about who will be favourites in the WTC final, Hadlee said: "The Test Championship is a one-off game. Yes, it is a final, but I don't think either team will be too fazed about it. It is a neutral ground with no home team advantage.

It is something to look forward to. Both teams deserve to be contesting the final because of their consistent playing performances over a set period of time. It all comes down as to who is better prepared and who adapts better to the English conditions the quickest,".

"The weather may also play a part and if it is cold that will favour New Zealand. The Duke ball will suit both team's fast bowlers especially the genuine swing bowlers and the Kiwis are well served in that department with Southee, Boult, and Jamieson.

If the ball seams around off the pitch, batsmen in both teams will be challenged. Both teams have high-class batsmen so it will be an interesting game to watch. It is too difficult to call a winner at this stage," he added.

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Earlier this year, India defeated Australia 2-1 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against all odds and then Virat Kohli's team defeated England to cement its place in the WTC finals

"Personally, I am a great supporter of Test cricket.  That's all I knew when I grew up in the '60s and '70s. Yes, one-day cricket gained momentum in the mid-'70s but there were not many games back then. In the 80's one-day cricket really took off. For me, Test cricket still remains the format to play.

It is the foundation on which the game is based, and it must be protected and preserved at all costs. If we lose sight of or neglect Test cricket, we will lose it and not get it back," said Hadlee.

Hadlee further said Kohli was a big factor in Indian cricket remaining competitive.

"I see Virat as being a very passionate and competitive cricketer with a strong desire for himself and the team to succeed. He is a proud man and a world-class player -- a delight to watch. The pressure and expectations on him to 'win' is enormous.

There are millions of Indian fans who idolize him which puts great pressure on him. Virat is responsible for ensuring that Indian cricket remains competitive and be one of the best teams in the world," Hadlee said.

"However, fans still need to understand that we are all human and champions will fail from time to time -- any cricketer can score a duck or get no wickets which is deemed to be a failure, but when a player succeeds, everyone is happy, except perhaps the opposition," he added.

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