Cricket Australia has revealed its schedule for the summer of cricket, but admitted there was no guarantee the final list would look the same as the sport responds to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The summer schedule for Australia’s men’s and women’s cricket teams has been released
- The men’s side will play Tests against India and Afghanistan, along with short-format series against West Indies, Zimbabwe, NZ and India
- The women’s team’s summer will include an ODI series against India, who they beat in this year’s Women’s World Cup final
Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday night confirmed dates for the marquee India tour, with Brisbane locked in to host the first Test on December 3 before a day-night clash in Adelaide and the traditional Boxing Day and New Year’s fixtures in Melbourne and Sydney.
Perth will receive the consolation prize of hosting the one-off inaugural Test against Afghanistan on November 21.
The schedule begins with a men’s ODI series against Zimbabwe in August, and ends with men’s ODI and T20I series against New Zealand in January and early February.
The Australian women’s team has no Tests scheduled, but will face New Zealand in T20I and ODI series in September-October, and finish their summer with an ODI series against India, in a rematch of this year’s Women’s World Cup final.
In a statement, Cricket Australia chief executive, Kevin Roberts referenced the difficulty for sport in navigating a global pandemic, but said he was encouraged by the progress being made in combatting the coronavirus.
“We know that circumstances or events beyond our control could mean that the final schedule potentially may look different to the one released today, but we’ll be doing everything we can to get as much international cricket in as possible this summer,” Roberts said.
“We will communicate any changes to the schedule if or when they are required.
“We are engaged in ongoing discussions with federal and state governments, our venues and the touring nations to continually understand and monitor the situation in front of us, which is evolving every day.
“We’ll continue to act in accordance with public health advice and government protocols to ensure the safety of the public, players and support staff.”
The issue of crowds has been a hot topic for discussion across all sports as authorities respond to the pandemic.
“Cricket plays an important role in society, and we know our fans are excited at the prospect of seeing their heroes in action again this summer after what has been a challenging year for everyone,” Roberts said.
“We will continue to assess whether it is possible for them to attend matches in person, however if it is not deemed possible, we already have a solid blueprint in place.
“Australian cricket will survive and thrive after the coronavirus pandemic dissipates, just as we have after world wars, depressions, recessions and the many other challenges that have confronted us over the past 140-plus years.”
WACA not happy with India series snub
Earlier, Western Australian cricket chief Christina Matthews said it was “astounding” Perth had been snubbed for hosting one of the Tests against India, declaring Perth Stadium was superior to the Gabba in every facet.
Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) officials were fuming at the decision to overlook the multi-billion dollar stadium for the hotly-anticipated return of Virat Kohli’s men, particularly given WA’s complementary timeslot for Indian audiences.
“All the metrics associated with cricket over the last two years see us surpass Brisbane in every area, whether that’s crowds, broadcast ratings, even better rainfall at that time of year, more corporate seats — just so many indicators — and a brand new stadium,” Matthews told reporters on Thursday.
“When Australian cricket’s primary objective is fans first, it is astounding that the 10,000 members who pay money to support cricket year after year in this state are not afforded the number one Test team to tour this year.
“The last time (in 2014), we were told it was because our venue wasn’t good enough and if we supported a new stadium, this would never happen again. And here we are again.”
The confirmed reinstatement of the Gabba, where Australia has not lost in more than 30 years, comes as little surprise after public lobbying from the likes of Test captain Tim Paine.
Matthews said she expected the WACA to bleed members as a result of the decision at a time when CA was already asking the states to make significant cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We obviously hope that our members will continue to support us but we have to factor in that could be a $3 or $4 million hit to us on membership alone,” Matthews said.
“They’re not necessarily looking at the hardcore cricket fans when they’re making those decisions.
“We’ve been told commercially, Brisbane is more viable for Australian cricket and that over an eight-year touring period from 2015 through to 2023 WA has a better schedule than anyone else.
“I’m not really privy to what’s going to happen in the next three years but they were the key reasons.”
An outspoken critic of CA at times, Matthews said WA remained privileged to host Afghanistan and looked forward to welcoming the emerging nation.
CA facing $80m loss for summer
When Roberts faced the media on Friday to discuss the schedule, the focus turned to the future of the World T20, and the potential financial crunch facing CA if it did not go ahead.
The ICC met in Dubai overnight and was expected to announce the cancellation of the tournament, which is scheduled to run between October 18 and November 15 at a number of Australian venues.
Cricket’s governing body deferred a decision, but Roberts admitted there was a “very high risk” of the cup being stalled because of the pandemic, and said CA could be out of pocket by up to $80 million by the end of the summer.
“The likelihood of significant crowds is very slim — ordinarily that would deliver well over $50 million revenue to CA,” Roberts told reporters.
“The T20 World Cup is a big question and that’s a factor of perhaps $20 million … we have been hopeful all along that it could be staged in October-November but you would have to say there’s a very high risk about the prospect of that happening.
“And it’s likely that our biosecurity measures that we need to put in place to deliver the season will cost in the order of $10 million.”