21 Apr

The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered a significant financial hit to Cricket Australia (CA) that has led to the imminent stand down of a majority of its workforce, and also cast doubt over the likelihood of major upcoming events including the men's T20 World Cup and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Series against India.

But CA Chief Executive Kevin Roberts today outlined a range of scenarios being discussed to have cricket played, even if matches are staged in empty stadia, which in turn will bolster the organisation's financial position and that of other cricket nations around the globe.

Roberts confirmed the idea of growing the regular Border-Gavaskar Trophy series from four to five Test matches has been discussed with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in recent years with an eye to the next programming cycle due to start in 2023. While there was no immediate plan to expand this series for next summer, such is the economic impact of India touring with its enormous television viewing audience – reportedly worth around $300 million to CA's coffers in 2020-21 – it remains up for discussion.

"We've discussed a shared desire to evolve to a five-Test series between Australia and India in the future, just like both our nations play five Tests series against England. It's something we're both committed to, in principle, in the future and the big question is whether or not we can bring that in before the next Future Tours (Program) cycle in 2023." Roberts told a video media conference today.

Roberts also confirmed CA would consider housing India's players and support staff at a 'quarantine hub' such as Adelaide Oval's yet-to-be-completed 128-room hotel where Kohli's squad could remain to train and play during the Test campaign without the need for additional travel.

It is understood CA has been exploring a bio-security plan that would include charter flights for players and support staff, a period of isolation upon arrival and access to training amenities that a venue such as Adelaide Oval and its adjacent No.2 ground can provide.

CA also remains hopeful of hosting the men's T20 World Cup scheduled for October and November, and continues to take Federal Government advice on how that might happen while adhering to health advice and guidelines.

And despite a preference to retain the KFC Big Bash League in its traditional window from mid-December to early-February, so rapidly is the landscape changing Roberts indicated CA might "play with the timing of the tournament" if it worked best in a revised schedule.

John Stephenson


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