Cricket could be on a collision course with the football codes.
Cricket could be on a collision course with the football codes.

T20 World Cup and footy codes on collision course

Cricket has so far avoided the coronavirus famine but it could be swept up in the sporting flood to follow.

Now the AFL and NRL seasons have been suspended indefinitely, the very real prospect has emerged that the football codes could collide with cricket's T20 World Cup in Australia in October.

Cricket is on safe footing with venues thanks to existing contracts which guarantee it access to the MCG, SCG, Adelaide Oval, Perth Stadium and the Gabba, which means the AFL will be searching for other grounds.

But the battle for television ratings and the hearts and minds of the country could be ferocious.

Clearly there are no guarantees that the football codes will get back on the field this year but if they do, October will go from being cricket's exclusive domain to being swamped by an extravaganza of blue-ribbon sport.

Broadcasters Fox Sports, Channel 9 and Seven could emerge from a painful drought of no live sport to an unprecedented nightly battle for eyeballs between the country's two tribal codes and a massive international event on home soil.

Nine has the rights to rugby league and the cricket, but it's difficult to see the NRL budging from the main channel in NSW and Queensland should it clash with Australian T20 matches.

It's a far from ideal scenario for cricket to be competing against starved footy fans who have been forced to wait months for their fix.

But if that's the biggest blow it suffers during the coronavirus, the game will have come out of the global crisis in remarkably good shape.

 

Australian batsman Steve Smith during the first T20 international against South Africa last month. Picture: Getty Images
Australian batsman Steve Smith during the first T20 international against South Africa last month. Picture: Getty Images

Thanks to some prudent financial management, but mostly good luck, cricket has dodged the biggest bullet imaginable. All that was lost from the home summer schedule were two one-day matches against New Zealand.

The Daily Telegraph understands Cricket Australia is looking to reschedule the lost ODI matches and Twenty20 series against New Zealand once the lights come back on for international sport.

It's impossible to tell whether they could be squeezed into this calendar year, but there's the potential for them to still be played in 2020 depending on how the cards fall.

While the AFL and NRL are on their knees, Cricket Australia looks as though it will get through this financial year in healthy financial shape.

Things would start to get ugly if the coronavirus interrupted this summer's Test series against India.

Losing a lucrative series against the might of India, with the millions of television dollars that pour in from the subcontinent, would be when Cricket Australia entered the world of hurt being experienced by the football codes.

Major challenges are still coming for cricket, though, regardless of whether the coronavirus threat does subside before the summer.

October seems a long way away but there's the possibility fans may be barred from the World Cup, or that the tournament won't go ahead at all, if various international flight restrictions around the globe haven't eased by that time.

That would be a worst-case scenario but at the very least the preparations of teams for the Twenty20 World Cup could be hugely compromised. How many warm-up T20 series could be catered for before then, for example?

 

Australia’s Test tour of Bangladesh in June appears unlikely to go ahead. Picture: Getty Images
Australia’s Test tour of Bangladesh in June appears unlikely to go ahead. Picture: Getty Images

Australia's Test tour to Bangladesh in June would appear doomed, while at this stage it's hard to imagine a T20 and ODI tour of England going ahead in July.

Later that month, Zimbabwe are scheduled to come to Australia for white-ball matches.

Cricket administrators are also waiting with bated breath for when India might look to reschedule the IPL. Several Australians, led by $3 million man Pat Cummins, are slated to take part.

If the world's most lucrative T20 league clashes with international cricket, Cricket Australia could be forced to prevent players from attending.

Players say they are prepared to take pay cuts if required.

"They understand they may need to tighten their belts to help the game get through a difficult time," ACA chief Alistair Nicholson said.

 

 

Originally published as T20 World Cup and footy codes on collision course



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