Minnows out? Ashes-style India series on cards

Cricket Australia wants to replace the historic home Test against Afghanistan with a fifth Test against superpower India as the sport comes to grips with its alarming financial crisis.

That would expand the Border-Gavaskar Trophy into a five-match Ashes-style series, ensuring both the Gabba and Perth Stadium receive a blockbuster against India.

Under the current program it appears likely that Perth would miss out on hosting India, instead left with a low-drawing and, almost certainly, one-sided contest against minnow Afghanistan.

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The Western Australia Cricket Association would consider playing that match at the smaller WACA Ground, instead of the 60,0000-seat Perth Stadium.

CA is set to make $300 million in TV revenue from four Tests against India and so a fifth could easily be worth more than $50 million for a sport that is fast running out of cash.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would have to agree to playing an extra Test, and Australia could offer to return the favour when it tours India in 2022.

It comes as the money-making Big Bash League appears set to remain in its traditional window, despite suggestions it could be delayed to February-March so that fans were less likely to be locked out.

Cricket Australia has contracts with leading venues from October to March, ensuring access to stadiums wouldn't have been a problem.

It was also suggested that the BBL could be brought forward to October-November in the event the T20 World Cup falls over.

But BBL bosses are adamant the majority of the tournament would remain in the school holidays slot and wouldn't move by anymore than a week.


Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts is tasked with leading the sport through the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Getty Images
Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts is tasked with leading the sport through the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Getty Images


CA chief executive Kevin Roberts has been pushing for a fifth Test against India for some time and confidence is growing that Virat Kohli's team will be allowed to travel to Australia.

But contingency plans are also being discussed. They include reviving the Australia A concept or playing games against New Zealand, should the travel ban across the Tasman be lifted first.

It shapes as a defining time for Roberts, who is understood to be at loggerheads with the players, the states and some CA staff over his handling of the sport's finances.

Cricket Australia department heads have been asked to provide a plan that would reduce both staff and costs by 25-50 per cent, including nominating staff to be cut.

Locking in the same BBL dates would appease free-to-air broadcaster Channel 7, which does not want its premium products - AFL and cricket - cannibalising each other by competing head-to-head.

Cricket officials were originally nervous about signing with Channel 7 and a source close to the broadcast negotiations said the lucrative deal saw "dollars go ahead of sense".




Originally published as Minnows out? Ashes-style India series on cards