3:34 PM IST
Andrew McGlashanDeputy editor, ESPNcricinfo
- Deputy Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England’s batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
Australia Test captain Tim Paine and national coach Justin Langer have urged administrators to sit down with broadcasters and iron out their differences as soon as possible as the game tries to navigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the upcoming season.
Channel Seven threatened to terminate its contract with Cricket Australia unless there is some clarity over a playing schedule which has been compromised by Covid-19 restrictions. Talks between Seven, fellow broadcaster Fox Sports and CA are due to take place over the next few days.
James Warburton, the Channel 7 CEO, described the delays last week as a “train wreck” and said they were not happy with the possibility of the Big Bash being diluted without international players.
“I think they’re going to get together this week and have a chat,” Paine told reporters in Hobart as CA announced a new sponsorship deal with Vodafone that includes naming rights for the men’s Test series and sponsorship of the women’s team and their Big Bash competition.
“It’s probably a little bit overdue. Hopefully they then get on the same page and work together and make sure we get the best result for cricket in this country, not just for Channel Seven, not just for Cricket Australia.
“They need to work together and do what’s best for the game. Hopefully they…iron a few things out and we can all move forward.”
One of the biggest issues has been the potential loss of more star names from the Big Bash because they will be needed in larger international squads, but Langer played down how significant that could be given the annual clash of the BBL and international cricket.
That reflects one of the major issues for the league, and a key point raised in the CA-commissioned report earlier this year by David Barham, the television executive who was central to the competition’s rise at Channel Ten, about being able to have Australia’s biggest players appear in the tournament.
“The Big Bash has been an incredible success over a long time and often the best international don’t play because they are playing for Australia so that probably won’t be much different,” Langer said. “For the health of the game, to put smiles on faces of people who love cricket, we are looking for win-win situations.”
Langer added that it was always a priority to have players available for as much domestic cricket as possible, but that this season would require a different approach and flexibility from all involved.
“The first thing is we are always encouraging our players to be back playing BBL cricket or Sheffield Shield cricket because the best way to improve is to play games,” he said. “The reality is in this once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic there has to be some little changes. With the borders as we currently see it you can’t just bring people in and out.
“We’ll listen to the advice of the medicos and the advice of the government but be assured to the broadcasters and the fans, we want our best players playing as much cricket on the TV as possible because that is a win-win for everybody.”
Seven and pay television company Foxtel agreed a six-year broadcasting rights agreement worth A$1.2 billion with CA in 2018. Seven’s share of the agreement was worth about A$450m.
Paine added that as far as he was aware the match schedule for this summer, which includes a lucrative Test series with India, was in the final stages for government approval.
“My understanding is it has been ticked off by the states, by CA, by the players,” he said. “It now just has to go to that next level.”
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One possibility is that the men’s international season will begin with limited-overs cricket against India following the quarantine period all players will need to serve after the IPL. That could be followed by the one-off Test against Afghanistan before the four matches against India.
The season will get underway later this month with a tour by the New Zealand Women’s team for three T20Is and three ODIs which will all be played at Allan Border Field in Brisbane. Those matches are part of Channel Seven’s current deal.
Reuters contributed to this story
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