Sri Lanka in Australia, 2012-13 January 22, 2013

Broadcasters briefed on controversial ODI squad


Australia's squad for the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka was deemed so sensitive that Cricket Australia met with the host broadcaster Channel Nine ahead of its announcement to explain why Michael Clarke, David Warner and Matthew Wade were to be rested and Michael Hussey dropped.

ESPNcricinfo understands CA's team performance manager Pat Howard sat down for two meetings with members of the Nine commentary team and the network's director of sport Steve Crawley during the Sydney Test, in an effort to convince the broadcasters of the need for squad rotation and the introduction of younger players during the ODI phase of the summer.

While CA and Nine meet frequently for discussions of the schedule and other related matters, it is believed to be exceedingly rare for a squad's selection and the reasons for its composition to be relayed in advance, underlining the controversial nature of the team chosen.

After the national selector John Inverarity unveiled the squad on the fourth and final morning of the Test, Nine was critical of the absence of Warner and the retiring Hussey in particular from the first two matches. Crawley weighed in with the following words.

"From an entertainment point of view, and as a fan, I struggle to understand how those two are not in the side," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "There is no doubt we've got to bring in new players. I think that's a good thing. But I don't get leaving out Warner and Hussey. When my kids play in the yard, they're David Warner and Michael Hussey."

Australia's stand-in captain George Bailey subsequently made a reference to the concurrent television rights discussions as a possible reason for Nine talking down his team, eliciting a sharp rebuke from the network's cricket executive producer - and former New South Wales allrounder - Brad McNamara.

"It's rubbish and George should stick to playing cricket and leave rights to the people who know what they're talking about," McNamara said. "I reckon he's got his hands full as it is. He needs to concentrate on staying in the side. And he needs to understand where his money's coming from.

"Without the TV rights deal, George is probably working in a coal mine or flipping burgers at McDonald's. All this talk about the death of one-day cricket, it's not coming from us. Given we were lacking star quality, we were very happy [with the ratings]."

While hardly an innovation, Australia's rotation of players at appropriate times in an increasingly packed calendar has caused plenty of angst around the country, and in some cases among the state associations. The former Australian captain Ricky Ponting is a supporter of the policy, but has said that CA may need to explain the rationale a little more clearly in order to avoid the sort of coverage it has since received.

"I think an educational process should be put in place," Ponting said, "to let the sponsors, the people who are covering the game and the fans understand what's actually going to happen before the day the team is announced."

Though declining to speak specifically about the meeting, a CA spokesman said the governing body maintained a healthy relationship with Nine. "The closest of families occasionally disagree," he said. "But we and Nine enjoy a remarkable chemistry which has always transcended the black ink of some 30 years of contracts."

Crawley was not available for comment.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ayush on January 24, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    I am suprised McNamara said what he did. If Bailey can't say what he thought, shouldn't McNamara not argue about what team is gonna play, since he is obviously not qualified to select a team. and in his words "stick to rights, and let cricket be handled by people who know it"

  • Neil on January 24, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    I think the Cricketainment Australia Corporation would be reasonably satisfied with the summer so far. The Unlikeables have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the tests, and then snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat in the first ODI series. Twitter followers have multiplied. Desired outcomes have been achieved and all the necessary people have been paid. No one suspects. Vain, bald men have been reminded where to advance their payments and the nation's young cricketers are fuelled with buckets of fried chicken. So far, so good.

  • Arvind on January 24, 2013, 4:44 GMT

    Team selection based on TRP? Ridiculous! What's next? TRP ratings will decide whether the team bats or fields first? Batting order, field settings, bowling changes would all be decided by TRP. I would not even be surprised if Channel 9 decides what shot the batsman should play or what kind of ball the bowler should bowl, because players should know where their money comes from!

  • Bob on January 24, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    Something rotten at CA, and it's been like that all summer. Rotation, the Mike Hussey decision, the abandonment of the Sydney ODI when Sri Lanka were clearly in the better position and now this revelation. Someone needs to put a broom through the place and this time do it properly. How we Australians can have the gall to complain about "hometown decisions" when touring the sub-continent mystifies me.

  • Peter on January 23, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    How on earth Hussey was dropped, I'll never know. Yes, he's retiring, and the Aussies have to bring in new blood, but is it good for them to deliberately weaken the side? Particularly so their batting - which is dodgy anyway. If Australia had lost the ODI series to Sri Lanka - which they almost did, it would've been poetic justice toward the selectors. It's two years until the next World Cup, so rebuilding to the extent of dropping their best ODI batsman is plain daft. No wonder the selectors were embarrassed into trying to do this on the quiet. Life without Hussey is going to be tough enough for the Aussies, and they've just had a taste of what it'll be like.

  • ANTHONY on January 23, 2013, 22:23 GMT

    I think this rotation policy lets some of our players loose a bit of form. What ever happened to the Australia A team v touring team for a couple of ODI? This would give our main players who play tests & ODI players a bit of a rest. This would also give the selectors an opportunity to blood new players againest international sides. I think CA did the talks with 9 as they new they would cop a fair bit of backlash. I've said ages ago maybe it's time to have seperate teams for the three formats. At least more players would get a go & a share of the pie.

  • Brett on January 23, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    So CA felt the need to issue a press release hosing down tensions between Hussey and Clarke to clear the air. From a fiscal point of view Hussey playnig in both the Sri Lankan and West Indies series makes perfect sense. Not selecting him because of a world cup two years away is balderdash. How much could the current young crop learn from 10 extra games with Mike Hussey. It seems that the Australian public have been robbed of the opportunity to farewell a champion as well as the best role model we have seen in recent times. Clarke we have just forgiven you for the Bingle years and now this....

  • anil on January 23, 2013, 15:37 GMT

    I guess Channel 9 would have invested in Cricket Australia and hence they would have to explain why the team was what it selected. When near perfect 10 like Sachin and a 8/10 like Ponting was asked to retire and were facing the axe Hussey cannot be an exception. Let them look ahead. As per money options, Hussey is more than welcome to IPL to play full season. He will be worth more in the coming seasons.

  • Dummy4 on January 23, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    Ridiculous. What's next CA? Allowing a Nine executive on the selection panel to ensure that they are happy with the team? Nine need to be put in their place and that is as a broadcaster who pays for the rights to broadcast the cricket and nothing else. CA should break this cushy relationship that Nine think they have and they can start doing that by shopping the TV rights around.

  • Swastik on January 23, 2013, 6:47 GMT

    roflol australia cricket is awesome