India power play leaves Aussies in tough spot
INDIA is set to put the squeeze on Australia to break its traditional domestic rules if it wants to guarantee a game-saving $300 million summer.
India is poised to agree to two additional one-day internationals in January to further boost Cricket Australia's coffers on top of four Tests this summer.
But it wants its back scratched first.
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Anticipation is mounting that the Twenty20 World Cup scheduled for October will be postponed and the timeslot taken over by the all-powerful Indian empire, which is pushing for a mini IPL to recoup some of the $800 million it lost when the tournament was postponed in April.
If that happens, India would expect Aussie superstars including Pat Cummins, David Warner, Steve Smith, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell to be made available, Government flight restrictions allowing.
That represents a mighty power play given the proposed October-November IPL would directly clash with the start of the one-day Cup and Sheffield Shield.
As a rule, CA does not permit its stars to play in T20 leagues abroad during its own domestic summer, but the heat would be on Cricket Australia to bow down given the financial oblivion it might risk by rocking the boat with India and diluting the IPL juggernaut on the eve of such a critical Test series.
The threat may not be explicit, but the BCCI is well aware of its own power in negotiations.
It was only in January that Australia was forced to bail out of its own home summer to tour the subcontinent for fear of repercussions.
Australia's domestic competition would be watered down and red-ball preparation for the Test series against India could be compromised for both teams.
But the BCCI is willing to give plenty in return for these sacrifices.
It's understood India has all but rejected Australia's request for a fifth Test but is ready to throw in two extra ODIs for CA which are worth up to $60 million each and would financially benefit both countries even more.
If the World Cup is postponed, Australia's return from COVID-19 could mean a white-ball international tour to coronavirus-hit England in September, straight to the IPL in October, and then straight into home Tests against Afghanistan and India.
Rescheduling the T20 World Cup to February would create a minefield for international cricket, and India has made it clear bilateral series must be the priority to financially save boards smashed by the effects of the pandemic.
"Yes, easily that adds more money to any cricket board," BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told cricbuzz.
"If all of us are back to our feet, then only we'll be able to help each other. It's very important that all the boards are in a healthy financial position."
Cricket Australia is privately supportive of the World Cup moving, not only to appease India but because Australian sports are resolving to work together through the coronavirus crisis.
CA is keen to get out of the NRL and AFL's way in October, and in return the footy codes would clear the decks for cricket should the World Cup be moved to February.
However, shifting to February is complicated. For a start, Australia is due to tour South Africa and England is due to tour India that month, not to mention the fact there's another T20 World Cup already scheduled for next October.
The World Cup committee insists no decisions have been made by the ICC, but there's growing speculation a final call could be made on the fate of the tournament in the coming weeks.
Although the tournament is scheduled to be staged in Australia, CA won't be severely affected financially by the World Cup not going ahead, certainly not compared to how it would be crippled by India bailing out on a Test summer worth $300 million.