Why cancelling the Bangladesh series will hurt Australia on the field

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Cricket Australia's decision to cancel their series against Bangladesh isn't just a bad look, it's going to hurt the Test side. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

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    Cricket Australia’s arrogant decision to cancel the scheduled two-Test series against Bangladesh in August is not only hugely disrespectful to the Tigers but will also hinder the Australian Test team.

    CA’s announcement last week was the continuation of their shabby treatment of low-profile teams Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, neither of whom have played a Test in Australia since 2003.

    This 15-year drought was scheduled to end in three months but Bangladesh’s Test series in Australia has been cancelled because Cricket Australia thought it would prove a financial burden.

    While CA released a statement claiming the cancellation had been a mutual decision with the Bangladesh Cricket Board, the BCB chief executive has since described the situation as “really disappointing”.

    Nizam Uddin Chowdhury told Reuters CA had informed the BCB the series was “not financially viable due to the off-season”.

    If that statement is true it represents a pathetic cop-out by CA. They are one of the three richest cricket boards in the world and recently signed a monster $1.2 billion broadcast deal. CA could well afford to take a rare financial loss for the good of cricket.

    The Board of Control for Cricket in India has received heavy flak in Australia for refusing to play a day-night Test in Adelaide this coming summer.

    The BCCI has also been pilloried, and rightly so in this case, for their decision to omit most of their starting players, including captain Virat Kohli, from their one-off Test against Afghanistan next month.

    Yet the BCCI also deserve high praise for hosting a match against the newest Test nation. Afghanistan only recently gained Test status yet India agreed to let them play their first-ever such match in India’s backyard. Meanwhile, Australia won’t even host matches against teams in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, who have had Test status for eons.

    It’s not just hosting which is the issue either – CA don’t like playing the lower-profile Test nations home or away. Australia haven’t played a Test against Zimbabwe in 14 years, and have played only two matches against Bangladesh in the past 12 years.

    Bangladesh cricket

    (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

    CA regularly claims it values Test cricket highly. If that was true then they would recognise the need for the development of teams like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and newcomers Ireland and Afghanistan. The most obvious way these teams can improve significantly is by playing against the top teams.

    In reality, CA seems to view these lower-profile Test teams as a nuisance. It’s hard not to feel they’d happily play blockbuster series against England, India and South Africa on a loop, never again stooping down to interact with the commoner teams.

    Even the obvious advantages to the Australian Test team weren’t enough to convince CA to fulfil their obligation to host Bangladesh. The rebuilding Australian side would have had a huge amount to gain by playing two homes Tests against the Tigers.

    Australia have some very tough Test series over the next 16 months, with a tour against Pakistan followed by hosting the world’s number one Test team India, and then the Ashes in England.

    In disarray after losing three players to the ball tampering scandal, a two-Test home series against a modest opponent would have been a perfect tune-up for Australia ahead of the series against Pakistan in October.

    Australia’s overhauled top six, which has three new members, surely would have benefited greatly from having more time to gel. Playing on home pitches against Bangladesh’s limited pace attack would have been a prime opportunity for this batting line-up to build form and confidence.

    Instead, they will be vaulted straight into the furnace in the UAE, where Australia’s batting line-up floundered on their last Test tour four years ago. If those batting struggles are repeated in October, Australia will enter the home series against India ripe for the picking.

    Which makes it all the more confounding why CA canned the Tests against Bangladesh. They valued money over not just the interests of the game but over the interests of their own team.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (49)

    • May 14th 2018 @ 9:51am
      jameswm said | May 14th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

      Cancelled because it’s not financially viable? How has this changed since we proposed the series?

      Not financially viable, or not economically viable – I hope Bangladesh don’t go all Michael Douglas on us (see Falling Down)

      • May 15th 2018 @ 1:44pm
        Basil (the original) said | May 15th 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

        Everyone on this forum agrees, but CA know that a massive portion of Aussie cricket fans are summer cricket fans that do not give a cracker about the game during the footy season. Yes, we are upset but the greater majority couldn’t give a rats toss bag.

        • Columnist

          May 15th 2018 @ 3:48pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | May 15th 2018 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

          You’re spot on Basil.

          Obviously this is a guesstimate, but I would say at least 60-70% of Australians who would consider themselves a “cricket fan” barely follow the sport during the March-October “off-season”.

          I reckon you’d be lucky to have 10% of fans who actively follow all of Australia’s series across each year. Fortunately The Roar’s readers include a lot of diehard cricket fans which is why we write about cricket year-round, never missing a single Australian series.

    • Roar Guru

      May 14th 2018 @ 10:00am
      Anindya Dutta said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      @Ronan – I agree and have said on this forum on other articles on this topic that given the Bangladeshi diaspora abroad who would show up in large numbers to support their team, I am not convinced, at least from a ticket proceeds perspective, that there would actually be a loss. But on a different note, I think there appears to be some misinformation because of which BCCI is being pilloried for absence of players against Afghanistan. The only major player who won’t be there is Kohli. Everyone else has been asked to come back and play including Pujara. India has a series coming up against england where their last two scorelines have been 0-4 and 1-3. Kohli has an average of 13 there. As the world’s top Test team and given the terrible record against England in england recently, it makes eminent sense for the world’s top batsman and India’s captain to get some time to get used to the conditions there and one month of county was the only way. So let’s give them and him some slack in this respect.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 14th 2018 @ 10:10am
        Pedro The Fisherman said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Got it. England is more important to India than Afghanistan.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 3:57pm
          bilo said | May 14th 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

          Ask who is more important to Australia Pedro, England or Afghanistan? At least India are playing the Afghans!

        • Roar Guru

          May 14th 2018 @ 6:59pm
          Anindya Dutta said | May 14th 2018 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

          Of course it is! I don’t think India is being hypocritical here at all. As @bilo mentioned, at least India is hosting the Afghans and not concocting excuses to avoid it. What you also may not know is that until very recently, much of Afghan training and coaching for the senior team has been hosted by India near Delhi.

      • Roar Guru

        May 14th 2018 @ 10:16am
        spruce moose said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        You are still failing the see the issue re: Kohli and Afghanistan

        Imagine the uproar in India if it was revealed that Joe Root would rather sit out a hypothetical India series so he could save himself for the Ashes? The BCCI would call it disrespectful and be livid. And we’d frankly agree with the BCCI on it.

        It’s the same thing.

        You are a really smart and sensible guy, but perhaps your national support is clouding your judgement here?

        • Roar Guru

          May 14th 2018 @ 7:02pm
          Anindya Dutta said | May 14th 2018 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

          @spruce – Thanks for the kind words which I may or may not deserve 🙂 Notwithstanding that, no, I do not believe its the same thing. And honestly would I care if Root did not come with the England team to play India? There have been many series since the early 1950’s when England has not always put out all its best players to play India. Without letting sentiment cloud our judgement, it is a fact that its more important to win against England and India is heavily dependent on Kohli to succeed there so he needs the prep. He may well fail despite that, but it wont be for lack of effort at least.

      • Columnist

        May 14th 2018 @ 11:50am
        Ronan O'Connell said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        Anindya I definitely believe that a winter series against Bangladesh would see CA lose money – the crowds would be miniscule and TV audiences similarly small.

        • May 14th 2018 @ 4:47pm
          Dexter The Hamster said | May 14th 2018 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

          Ronan, why would the size of the TV audience matter? They have already sold the rights, so they have their money in their back pocket already, regardless of how many people tune into the games.

        • Roar Guru

          May 15th 2018 @ 8:26am
          The Bush said | May 15th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

          What I don’t understand is why Bangladesh don’t warrant a tour in Summer instead of the West Indies? I struggle to believe they could be any worse and the difference with Bangladesh is that they may well get better and better into the future (whereas the Windies are on a terminal decline).

          I understand not playing Zimbabwe, they are and have been a basket case for years. Their team is, to be frank, not up to test standard and it degrades the sport. But Bangladesh are not Zimbabwe.

          • Columnist

            May 15th 2018 @ 12:00pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | May 15th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

            I agree Bush, given there’s a dramatically larger cricket audience in Bangladesh than in the Caribbean I can’t understand how under CA’s policy – “Cash Rules Everything Around Me, Cream, Get The Money” – they would rather host the Windies than Bangladesh.

            • May 16th 2018 @ 2:43am
              Nathan said | May 16th 2018 @ 2:43am | ! Report

              First time i have ever seen a Wu Tang Clan quote on the roar lol ..dollar dollar bill y’all!!

    • Roar Rookie

      May 14th 2018 @ 10:07am
      Pedro The Fisherman said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      I suspect that there is more afoot here than is being played out in the public arena but I believe that Australia should play the minnows in these out-of-season matches (played in Cairns and Darwin where there will be some interest) to assist development of cricket in general.
      However, to suggest that these matches (in Australia) will help Australia in later games against Pakistan (in UAE) is simply rubbish. Different conditions completely!

    • May 14th 2018 @ 10:11am
      bazza said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

      I’m just annoyed as a fan we are missing out on playing all test nations regularly in Australia. I wish they book a test against Ireland as well and Afgan in Aus to welcome them to test cricket.

    • May 14th 2018 @ 10:18am
      Christo the Daddyo said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      The other interesting thing that came out on Offsiders yesterday was the fact that CA actually made this decision ages ago, but is only just now getting around to telling the general public about it.

      There’s still an unhealthy culture at Cricket Australia I think. That goes beyond dressing room and on field behaviour by the players…

    • Roar Guru

      May 14th 2018 @ 10:20am
      spruce moose said | May 14th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

      Ronan

      I’ve made by thoughts on this before, and I agree 100%. However, i found it interesting on Offsiders yesterday when Peter Lalor revealed this decision was made late last year. So, the new TV deal can no longer be used as an argument.

      It’s a PR shocker though. I’m not sure why they felt the need to wait 6 months to reveal this, and why they dangled the Bangers for that time too.

      They’ll kill the golden goose if they don’t watch out. if we play England, India and South Africa too much, we will stop being interested sooner rather than later. Unless you live in Brisbane and care only for England, the rest of the country likes some variety in their cricket diet.

      • Columnist

        May 14th 2018 @ 11:53am
        Ronan O'Connell said | May 14th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        Hi Spruce, that’s interesting RE: the Offsiders conversation.

        I had assumed that must be the case as, if CA’s reasoning for cancelling the series was due to an expected financial loss, that loss would have been evident from the moment the Test series was first pencilled in.

        A winter series against a low-profile side is always going to be a loss maker.

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