Australia contemplate five-Test series against India to offset losses

Cricket Australia chief Kevin Roberts defends staff pay cuts as he anticipates further financial blows

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 18: Tim Paine of Australia shakes hands with Virat Kohli of India after Australia claimed victory during day five of the second match in the Test series between Australia and India at Perth Stadium on December 18, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
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Cricket Australia are looking at expanding the Test series against India to five matches in an effort to make up for lost time and revenue when cricket resumes.

Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said all options will be considered for hosting India in December and January. That could include playing all games in one venue.

Australia is also pushing ahead with plans to stage the Twenty20 World Cup, which is scheduled for October 18 to November 15.

“If you contemplate the prospect of the international season in particular being affected, we have an issue of losing revenue of hundreds of millions of dollars on our hands,” Roberts said. “We’ll be doing everything possible to launch and stage a season in 2020-21.”

Australia and India have regularly met in four-Test series but administrators in both countries want to expand on the growing rivalry. Roberts said the relationship between Australian officials and the Indian cricket board is strong, and both sides are committed to stages five-Test series in the future. The Indian Premier League has been postponed, and the timing of that could be a factor in scheduling.

“We won’t rule anything out in terms of the Indian series. Along with the BCCI and Indian players, we want to stage a series that inspires the cricket world, whether or not there are people in the stands,” he said. “We need to face into all possibilities. Fortunately, we have a little bit of time to work out scenarios.”

According to Roberts, the pandemic has already cost the board Australian $20 million (Dh46m) but the impact could be more severe if Tests against India are cancelled.


Players and their watches


Meanwhile, Roberts said deep staff pay cuts were necessary to shore up the game's finances. Cricket is in the off-season in Australia, but the game’s governing body has already stood down most staff and slashed salaries.

CA announced plans to furlough almost 80 per cent of staff last week, putting them on 20 per cent pay until June 30 when it is hoped more will be known about how long government curbs to control the coronavirus will last.

The cuts, which will save Australian $3m, have drawn criticism from media pundits, given CA had some $90m in reserves at the end of March including $36m in stock investments.

Roberts, however, said CA had to be prepared for further blows to the game's finances if a sustained shutdown put paid to all cricket in 2020.

"It wasn't an over-reaction because we're dealing with a situation that's hitting us unfortunately at the low point of our cash cycle over four years," Roberts said.

"In early September ... if there's more shots (to CA's finances) as we've had over the last month or more, that in fact would effectively chart a path to zero if we weren't to take drastic action.

"Then you layer on top of that the possibility that the international season doesn't go ahead, that's an issue of hundreds of millions of dollars."

Players, who are paid a share of total revenues generated by the game, also face significant pay cuts if the shutdown continues deep into the year.