Cricket Australia considering expanded 5-Test India series

Wednesday 29th April 2020 06:31 EDT

The prospect of a five-Test series between Australia and India is gaining traction as cricket authorities contemplate ways of making up for lost time when the peak of the coronavirus pandemic passes. Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive Kevin Roberts says all options will be considered for hosting India, the sport’s major income generator, in December and January. That could include playing all games between Australia and Virat Kohli’s India squad in one venue and expanding the Test series to five games.

Australia is also pushing ahead with plans to stage the T20 World Cup, which is slated to run from Oct. 18 to Nov. 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, so it’s very important to plan proactively for that,” Roberts said during a teleconference. “We’ll be doing everything possible to launch and stage a season in 2020-21.”

That could include a T20 World Cup devoid of fans at games.

“What we do know is that the bigger returns from the broadcast rights around the event that are generated by the ICC are very important to all of our counterparts around the cricket world,” Roberts said. “So it’s incumbent on us to do everything possible to stage and host the T20 World Cup.”

Roberts said Australia and India had a “shared desire” to move to a five-Test series in the future, which would put it on a par with the biennial Ashes games against England. “We don’t know what prospect there is of that next season, but certainly with a changing landscape... we won’t rule out a possibility of that until we get closer to the time,” he said, according to the Sporting News website.

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 Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is “strong”.

“We won’t rule anything out in terms of the India 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.”

Roberts added that “creative solutions” may be needed as discussions continue behind the scenes about potential cuts to players’ pay. Cricket Australia has already sent home most of its administrative staff on reduced pay, which Roberts said was necessary to stave off financial disaster in case of more disruption.

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