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Opinion

Cricket Australia has dodged a bullet – for now

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Roar Guru
28th March, 2020
16

Kevin Roberts and the Cricket Australia Board would be counting their luck right about now.

Timing has meant they managed to get in nearly a full cricket summer before having to shut everything down thanks to the current crisis.

In comparison to their Australian sporting cousins the NRL, AFL, etc, they’ve come off relatively unscathed financially. There certainly isn’t any talk of players having to take drastic pay cuts, for example.

CA must also be thinking of their counterparts in the UK in particular, but India as well. The IPL has been tentatively scheduled to start on the 15th of April but that plan appears to be very ambitious, while the English cricket summer is in disarray, with professional cricket not starting until the 28th of May and their big-money tournament, The Hundred, in serious danger of not happening at all.

Overall, Cricket Australia is currently smelling of roses.

In saying that, Cricket Australia must be disappointed about the past season. They can’t have been thrilled about the attendances, which obviously weren’t helped by a seriously warm summer and the bushfire crisis that affected the east coast in particular.

The women’s World Cup possibly rescued a summer that might have been a financial embarrassment otherwise, with only ordinary attendances at the Pakistan Tests and only okay numbers for the Trans-Tasman series.

It’s also possible the BBL, the latest Cricket Australia cash cow, is starting to lose its appeal, with numbers of viewers reducing and, if the comments from Roarers are indicative, the season is simply too long.

The next couple of months for Cricket Australia is relatively quiet, with no real time-critical decisions needing to be made. The Bangladesh tour is not until June and the white ball tour of England starts in July.

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This should give Roberts and the board time to reflect on whether they’ve got the Aussie cricket summer recipe right or it needs tweaking. Dwindling attendances, complaints about the pricing of tickets, food and drink pricing and quality and more complaints about over-zealous security are all factors hurting fans viewing experience.

Throw in some questionable scheduling that meant there was no international cricket from the first week in January for six weeks and there are surely some changes that could or should be considered.

Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins

(Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

CA will also be very keen to ensure sponsorship for next season. It’s not likely the Commonwealth Bank will withdraw as a major sponsor, but there have to be question marks about ongoing support from other companies who may be seriously affected by closures, especially if the current situation continues for any length of time.

The obvious elephant in the Cricket Australia board room will be the men’s T20 World Cup in October. Both the ICC and especially Cricket Australia will be sweating on this going ahead but may have some serious competition from the football codes for viewers if the AFL and NRL decide to go ahead and fit in seasons this year.

Right now, Cricket Australia has little to worry about but should be taking action to improve game-day experiences for fans going to watch live. It might also want to think about how it has certain parts of the game locked behind paywalls, so thousands cannot watch unless they pay to subscribe, which was hard enough for many before the current crisis, but could be impossible afterwards.

It’s dodged a bullet right now, but that may all change in the coming months.