By KSHVID NEWS DESK.
The South African cricket board shook the cricketing world by cancelling their 3-match ODI series against Australia, which is scheduled to be played in January next year. The Proteas will travel to Australia to compete in 3 tests and 3 ODI’s in the Australian summer but the CSA have made the decision to forfeit the 3 ODI’s. And the reason behind the board’s ruling is that the ODI series is clashing with the start of their new franchise T20 league.
CSA wants their international stars to play in their own domestic league to generate more eyeballs rather than an international series against Australia down under. The board said that it requested Cricket Australia (CA) to reschedule the three games, but with a packed international calendar, the two boards couldn’t settle on a new date.
The short-term and long-term implications of this decision on the game as a whole cannot be underestimated. In the short-term, South Africa will lose the 30 Super League points associated with the 3 ODI’s due to their forfeiture, which puts their World Cup qualification campaign in jeopardy. Cricket Australia is set to lose out heavily in terms of broadcast revenue if they don’t find a way to replace the three games.
This stance by the CSA further raises another deep-rooted issue in the modern-game – something which has been brushed under the carpet by the ICC – is ODI cricket dying a slow death? Ben Stokes’ retirement from the 50-over format before tests and T20I’s has clearly showcased where the priorities of modern players lie.
The CSA has faced some severe backlash from pundits and fans for putting their financial interests above an international series against one of the best sides in the world. Even the embarrassment that comes with a full-member nation having to go through a qualifier round to get to the World Cup did not faze the board. But can we really fault the CSA? And should the whole blame be put on them or should other cricket boards cope with their share as well?
We are talking about the “Big Three” cricket boards of India, Australia and England, who have ruled international cricket with an iron clad since the turn of the millennium. The situation has gotten even worse since the pandemic, which has financially crippled cricket boards across the world.
It was these three nations that started the dangerous trend of pulling out from overseas tours at the last minute, while forcing through unplanned tours when it suited them. They have also started to play against each other more often in order to fill their own pockets, while the rest of the boards face bankruptcy.
The ECB was saved from bankruptcy in 2020 when Pakistan and West Indies toured England at a time when Britain was reporting the highest Covid cases in the world. Australia travelled to England for an unplanned white-ball series in the same summer to help their English counterparts. Australia made every effort to ensure that the tour of India took place in the summer of 2020, saving CA from a financial meltdown.
When it came time for these nations to do the same, however, they backtracked, citing absurd reasons. Despite the success of South Africa’s tour of Pakistan, England and New Zealand cancelled their respective trips there due to security reasons. Due to two Covid incidents in December 2020, which later proved to be false positives, England left South Africa in the middle of their tour.
Australia cancelled their 3-match test series against South Africa in March 2021 despite risking their spot in the Test Championship Final. They cited a spike in Covid-19 instances as their justification. However, both the Australian and the English players travelled to the lucrative IPL at a time when India was reporting 300,000 cases every day.
England’s early departure cost the CSA R30 million, and the cancelled Australian tour cost R40 million. CSA announced losses of close to R221-million for the 2020/21 financial year.
Hence, the cancellation of the ODI series in Australia is the CSA putting their financial interests above all else and no one can fault them for doing so. Their new franchise league has generated huge public interest in the country and across the cricketing world. All six franchises have been bought by the owners of the IPL teams, which has created a sense of security for the board to finally launch a domestic T20I league after two failed attempts.
CSA will receive a sum of $150 million from the six franchises combined, which will be paid over a span of ten years. Although the league is predicted to create losses in the first four years, it is estimated to bring in a profit of $63 million over ten years. These numbers have been unheard of in South African cricket before. Even if the Proteas do make it to the World Cup, it would bring in just $2 million in participation fees and endorsements. So, from a financial perspective, the decision is a no-brainer for the CSA.
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