Less Sheffield Shield matches would weaken Australia's No. 1 position: Ponting

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Sydney, Jan. 2 (ANI): Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting is worried that the possible decline of first class tournament Sheffield Shield competition for the expansion of the domestic Twenty20 tournaments would weaken Australia's position as a leading cricket nation.

"I'd hate to see the day where we start playing more Twenty20 cricket at the expense of Sheffield Shield cricket. One thing I think we've had over other nations for the last 15 years is the great strength of our domestic cricket," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Ponting, as saying.

"If you start taking those Sheffield Shield games away then before you know it ... you just don't want to tinker with things that are working so well," he added.

His comments come as Cricket Australia weigh up increasing the size of the Big Bash competition for the 2011/12 season following its increase in popularity this season.

This summer's domestic Twenty20 tournament has been aided by the appearances of overseas stars such as Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi and Dwayne Bravo.

CA is considering plans for the 2011/12 season to increase the number of Twenty20 games from 17 to 31 and that could potentially cut the Shield competition from 10 rounds back to eight.

Ponting thought it would be hard to find space in the summer for Australia's international stars to have much of an involvement in any enhanced Twenty20 tournament.

"It's a competition that we've all enjoyed playing in the past and I'm sure the current Australian players would like to play a bit more over the coming years," he said.

"With the way international cricket is at the moment it's going to be exceptionally hard to find a window to get even four or five international teams completely free," he added. (ANI)

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