Cricket Australia is adamant it will not need to cut the value of its broadcast deal despite strong criticism from the boss of major rights holder Channel 7 over the delay in confirming the schedule for the home summer and suggestions that even a full slate of matches would not equate to delivering full value.
Earlier this week, James Warburton, the CEO of Channel 7, used an investor call to take a swipe at CA for the fact they have still to lock in a reworked scheduled for the major events of the summer – significantly the India tour and the BBL.
“It’s been frustrating with Cricket Australia, that’s for sure,” he said. “Ultimately…they need to look at what is possible to deliver, stop talking about international borders being closed, or borders being closed, and start to look at what really is the season we are going to deliver. We paid a massive price for the cricket – an Indian summer is as valuable as an Ashes summer.”
However, CA remains confident it will provide their full schedule which means delivering on their end of the billon-dollar broadcast deal that was made in 2018.
“We’re absolutely committed to delivering our side of the bargain which is fantastic summer of cricket and I think work with all our partners to deliver the best possible summer, the best possible entertainment for all our fans and the public,” interim CEO Nick Hockley said on Wednesday. “So, that’s what we’re focused on and I think we’ve got a very clear agreement, that is fulfilling our part of the bargain and that’s entirely what we’re focused on.”
Hockley, who took over from Kevin Roberts in June, said he had not spoken to Warburton since his comments earlier this week but said that Channel 7 are a “great partner”
“We are having lots of discussions about how Seven are going to bring to life cricket this summer,” he said. “We’ll continue to work through those. The discussion is very regular and there is lots of good dialogue. They’re a great partner. I’ve really enjoyed working with James and we’ve got so much to look forward to.”
One element which has got broadcasters nervous is the prospect of the BBL losing more big-name players because of the potential for larger international squads having to be named as it won’t be possible to fly players in and out due to quarantine restrictions. However, Hockley reiterated that the health and safety of everyone involve remained the overriding priority.
“Biosecurity and health and safety of the players throughout the summer is absolutely the number one priority and creating hubs and concentrating content as the other sporting codes have done throughout the winter is something we’re likely to have to do, certainly in the early stages of the season,” he said. “We are hoping the situation improves, I think clearly it’s going to be a busy and full summer, both the international playing group and the domestic group and WBBL.”
Australia’s home season is set to get underway at the end of September with the visit of the New Zealand Women’s team for three T20Is and three ODIs. Currently those matches are scheduled for Sydney and Queensland, but they are expected to be condensed into one hub venue.
The WBBL will follow from mid-October with the expectation that the tournament may also be held in a single state. The men’s season could then start with white-ball cricket against India following post-IPL quarantine periods before a Test against Afghanistan in early December then four against India running until mid-January.
The women are then due to play India in three ODIs in the middle of January – although they were being viewed as a lead-in to the now-postponed World Cup – with the New Zealand men’s side slated for a brief limited-overs tour at the end of January. The BBL final is currently due to be played on February 6.
Of the state domestic competitions, the Marsh One-Day appears the most vulnerable to be cut this season and there remain questions over when the Women’s National Cricket League could be played.