Cricket: Broadcaster ‘frustrated’ by Australia board schedule uncertainty

Channel Seven boss James Warburton fired a broadside at Cricket Australia (CA) on Tuesday, saying uncertainty over the summer schedule was proving “frustrating” for the broadcaster.

CA has pencilled in a four-test series with India starting in December as well as dates for the men’s and women’s domestic Twenty20 tournaments but has yet to finalise the schedule amid travel curbs and border controls due to COVID-19.

Warburton told an investor call on Tuesday that CA needed to follow the lead of Australia’s major football leagues, which moved quickly to rejig their schedules and restart competition months after the pandemic shut down all sport in March.

“Ultimately, when you look at the season, like the AFL and to an extent the NRL, (CA) need to look at what is possible to deliver, stop talking about international borders being closed, or borders being closed, and start to look at what really is the season we are going to deliver,” Warburton said.

“We have paid a huge price for the rights and we need to understand very quickly what the season is. It’s been a point of frustration with Cricket Australia, that’s for sure.”

Channel Seven is in the second year of a record five-year rights deal for Australian cricket with pay TV provider Foxtel.

CA confirmed last week that Australia’s delayed white-ball tour of England would go ahead from Sept. 4 but doubts remain over the shape of the home summer.

The southern state of Victoria remains in strict lockdown following a second wave of COVID-19 infections and authorities have shut state borders to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

CA interim chief executive Nick Hockley said the board would announce revisions to the schedule once it had “all necessary government exemptions and biosecurity measures” in place.

“We are confident we will provide (Channel Seven) with fantastic content this summer,” Hockley said in a statement.