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"Lack of financial viability" cited as reason for Australia to cancel hosting Bangladesh

ANALYST
News
1.35K   //    10 May 2018, 15:54 IST

Glenn Maxwell of Australia bats in the Second Test match between Bangladesh and Australia on September 7, 2017 in Chittagong, Bangladesh, the last time the two teams indulged in a bilateral series.
Glenn Maxwell of Australia bats in the Second Test match between Bangladesh and Australia on September 7, 2017, in Chittagong, Bangladesh, the last time the two teams indulged in a bilateral series.

What's the story?

Australia have called off the Bangladesh tour down under later this year due to financial reasons, arguing that it no longer makes sense to play top-end matches, usually played in North Queensland and the Northern Territory, out of season because they get "swamped" by the major football codes.

James Sutherland, CEO, Cricket Australia (CA) was quoted on Wednesday declaring the tour, scheduled to begin in August, to have been scrapped over fears it would not be commercially viable when competing head to head with the AFL(Australian Football League) and the NRL(National Rugby League).

He said the series was difficult to sell to Australian free-to-air TV broadcasters - prompting the decision to pull the plug on the Bangladesh cricket team's visit.

The details

The trip is said to have been scrapped because Australian broadcasters are understood to be uninterested in televising the series in the middle of the football season. Cricket Australia communicated to the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) that the tour was not "commercially viable".

In the wake of these recent developments, CA has been accused of overt “disrespect” in its decision to cancel the series. Their decision to now discard the scheduled two-test and three-ODI series has come as a huge blow to Bangladesh cricket, as they have lost yet another opportunity to test their mettle in the Australian conditions, which are of stark contrast from that of the Indian subcontinent.

A leading Bangladesh daily reported that Cricket Australia didn’t even tell its Bangladesh counterparts of their final decision to scrap the entire tour.

In case you didn't know...

There is something called the ICC's Future Tours Program (FTP) which plans upcoming tours and tournaments for the various cricketing nations. The ICC FTP had Australia down to play two Tests and three ODIs at home against Bangladesh in August and September 2018, the latter's first bilateral tour down under since 2003. It was a subject of importance too, as it is rare that a side doesn't tour another nation for so long. Australia has played Bangladesh in just three test series so far and has only hosted the cricket minnow once — when Australia won the 2003 Top End series 2-0.

Australia's tour to Bangladesh last year - where the Tigers have recorded six of the 10 Test victories they have notched in 106 matches since earning Test status in 2000 - ended in a 1-1 result after the hosts won the opening fixture in Dhaka.

What's next

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CA have since conveyed the decision to the BCB and alternative arrangements are being mulled. “We have proposed some options and are now awaiting their response.” BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury was quoted as saying.

According to him, one of the options being looked at is that of Bangladesh touring Australia after the 2019 ICC World Cup.

“The way in which everything works in cricket is that it’s really at the home team’s discretion to work things out as to how much they want to host and what they want to host,” CA chief James Sutherland was quoted as saying. “We commit to content in other parts of the world under the previous or current cycle, every six years you are at least committed to playing away. But we don’t have to play at home or we can vary the programme at home according to our needs and I think we just got squeezed a little bit.” Meanwhile, discussions between CA and the BCB have almost resolved that the Tigers might be better served by a series of T20 internationals in late 2019 to help familiarise them with Australia conditions ahead of the World T20, having failed to win a match at the 2016 event in India.

Despite losing this tour, Bangladesh still have a very busy cricketing season ahead of them, initially against Afghanistan this June, and after a brief hiatus, with back-to-back contests starting from September, against West Indies, Zimbabwe and New Zealand prior to the World Cup next year.

Author's take

In these days of widespread marketing of almost all major sporting events, commercial success has indeed become a strong motivation for such events to be held. As opposed to the olden days where any sport was just a game between two sides, a lot of other things such as revenue generation, advertisements, television viewership, and so on have to be taken into account these days, which in turn becomes half the reason for the ad-hoc manner in which most bilateral cricketing tours have been organised and cancelled at various points in recent history, invariably at the expense of the less financially strong countries.

At the same time, administrators worldwide are also recognising that triangular tournaments offer greater scheduling flexibility, competition and spectator appeal than some forms of bilateral programming, a notable expansion being Australia's upcoming Zimbabwe tour featuring six preliminary matches and a final within the space of a week, which will also include Pakistan as a third sid. 

Right now, the decision from Cricket Australia to reject the Bangladeshi tour strongly mirrors the BCCI's refusal to play a day-night Test this summer in contravention of CA's wishes. However, CA had gone ahead with the series nevertheless, citing the popularity of the Indian side as a reason. Meanwhile, because of a very unfair decision against themselves, Bangladesh continues to wait for a second shot at a tour down under - the previous one having been held a remote fifteen years ago.

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