One city, five Tests: How new-look India visit can save ‘hundreds of millions’

Cricket Australia (CA) is exploring all options to milk cash cows India next summer, predicting losses of hundreds of millions of dollars if Virat Kohli’s drawcards can’t tour.

CA chief executive Kevin Roberts says hosting an additional Test against India, in a series possibly played in one city at a stadium without spectators, is an option.

Roberts says Australia is also desperately examining how to host the Twenty20 World Cup slated for October and November amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Playing the T20 showcase tournament in empty stadiums is being considered.

“We might not generate financial returns from that event that are as significant as the international cricket season (in Australia),” Roberts told reporters in a teleconference on Tuesday.

“But 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.

“So it’s incumbent on us to do everything possible to stage and host the T20 World Cup.” CA, which has stood down most staff and warned players to brace for looming pay cuts, had already suffered a $20 million hit due to COVID-19.

Roberts said that figure would climb into the “hundreds of millions” should India not tour.

“If you contemplate the prospect of the international season in particular being affected, we have an issue of hundreds of millions of dollars on our hands,” Roberts said.

“So it’s very important that … we do everything possible to stage the season.”

Adding another Test match had been discussed with Indian powerbrokers.

“Whether or not there’s people at the venue or not … we will explore all viable options,” Roberts said.

“Fortunately we have a little bit of time to work through the different scenarios with the India series.

“But we’re not ruling out any possibility for that at this point in time.”

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Roberts also defended CA’s finances after standing down the majority of staff on about 20 per cent of their usual pay for the rest of the financial year, despite signing a landmark broadcast deal worth $1.2 billion in 2018. Players could also soon be asked to take pay cuts.

“On one level, cricket is fortunate in terms of the time of year when the coronavirus situation hit,” Roberts said.

“On another level, cricket is unfortunate in that it has hit us at the lowest point of our four-year cash cycle.”

In 2016, at the start of the cycle, CA had cash and investments worth about $270m – that figure had dropped to about $97m in March this year.

“We were completely on track with our plan for the year until coronavirus hit,” Roberts said.

“The unfortunate reality of that is we’re estimating that we have taken a $20m impact thus far.

“And we have to anticipate, given the unknown and fast-moving nature of this situation, that there will be more risks than that $20m.”

CA would reduce operating expenses by 25 per cent in the next financial year, with state associations likely to be asked to do likewise, with Roberts saying there would be “a further plan to go deeper if need be”.

Originally published asOne city, five Tests: How new-look India visit can save ‘hundreds of millions’

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