The BCCI is yet to give any thought to Cricket Australia’s (CA) five-Test series overture, as it feels the whole idea is a little premature. According to a Board official, much will depend on the future of the T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held in Australia in October-November.
On Tuesday, CA chief executive Kevin Roberts addressed the media via video conference and said hosting an additional Test against India could be an option. Asked about this, a BCCI official told The Indian Express: “We haven’t given it a thought as yet. We have a World Cup and Australia is in lockdown (the country has closed its borders to all foreigners for six months) until the end of September. We have to see how they go for that (T20 World Cup). Depending on that, the bilateral series will be worked out.”
The economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is massive and cricket, like all other sectors, is already feeling the pinch. There’s a big question mark over the T20 World Cup taking place as per the schedule and cancellation will see CA suffer a huge revenue loss. Every board might stand to lose $7-8 million if the ICC event is cancelled, but Australia being the tournament host, will take a bigger hit. With India being the game’s moneybags, CA is banking on the home series against Virat Kohli and company to somewhat make up for the loss. If by the end of the year, the Covid-19 problem doesn’t run its course and the tour is cancelled, the monetary loss could be irreparable.
As Roberts mentioned, hosting the Test series at one venue, without spectators, is an option as well. “Whether or not there are people at the venue or not; we will explore all viable options. Fortunately, we have a little bit of time to work through the different scenarios with the India series. But we are not ruling out any possibility for that at this point in time,” Roberts said.
As per the current itinerary, Australia are slated to host India for a four-Test series. However, back in January, when a CA delegation led by chairman Earl Eddings met BCCI office-bearers, the possibility of incorporating an additional Test was discussed. The Indian board, though, remained non-committal. At the moment, India play five-Test series only against England. But CA, too, is keen to have five matches in all India-Australia Test series, for India’s participation guarantees massive revenue.
“We won’t rule anything out in terms of the Indian series. Along with the BCCI and Indian players, we want to stage a series that inspires the cricket world, whether or not there are people in the stands,” Roberts said, adding that the relationship between Australian officials and their Indian counterparts is “strong”.
T20 World Cup
With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc globally, sport has come to a standstill. Roberts said CA is seriously examining the possibility of hosting the T20 World Cup as per schedule. Playing the matches behind closed doors is not ruled out either.
“If you contemplate the prospect of the international season in particular being affected, we have an issue of (losing revenue of) hundreds of millions of dollars on our hands,” Roberts said at the media conference.
He added: “We will be doing everything possible to launch and stage a season in 2020-21. What we do know is that the bigger returns from the broadcast rights around the event that are generated by the ICC are very important to all of our counterparts around the cricket world. So, it’s incumbent on us to do everything possible to stage and host the T20 World Cup.”
Pay cuts likely
With CA estimating a revenue loss of $20 million as of now, contracted players reportedly could be asked to take pay cuts. This is despite the fact that the Australian board has a broadcast rights deal worth $1.2 billion with Fox Sports and Channel Seven for a six-year cycle from 2018.
“We were completely on track with our plan for the year until coronavirus hit. The unfortunate reality of that is we are estimating that we have taken a $20m impact thus far.
“And we have to anticipate, given the unknown and fast-moving nature of this situation, that there will be more risks than that $20m,” Roberts said.
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