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CA denies Nine's selection influence

Daniel Brettig

June 19, 2013

Comments: 22 | Text size: A | A

James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, at a press conference, Melbourne, June 13, 2012
James Sutherland has said that cricket reasons will remain central to team selection © Getty Images
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Channel Nine will not be picking Australia's cricket teams nor dictating their schedule over the term of the network's new $400 million broadcast rights deal, Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland has said.

Having been pushed to the top of the market by a bold Network Ten bid for all cricket in Australia, Nine clearly expect value for money. Their managing director Jeff Browne told a business lunch in Sydney on Wednesday that there would be "a lot more discussion" of team selection and scheduling between CA and the broadcaster from next summer, particularly around the matter of player rotation.

"I understand why sports want to do that but people at home want to see the best players playing and we urge Cricket Australia to pick the best players every time," Browne said. "I think we've got a better understanding on that. Last year that balance was skewed too much in favour of resting some players so from now on there will be a lot more discussion between CA and the broadcaster about that."

The issue of senior Australian players being rested and rotated during the limited overs portion of the summer was a particular sore point with Nine last season. ESPNcricinfo reported in January that the CA team performance manager Pat Howard had two meetings with Nine's director of sport Steve Crawley and members of the commentary team during the Sydney Test to explain why Michael Clarke, David Warner and Matthew Wade were to be rested and Michael Hussey dropped.

Browne was clearly of the view that such discussions would become more consultative than merely explanatory in the future, but Sutherland was adamant that the national selectors would not be unduly influenced by the commercial demands of broadcasters, no matter how much they were paying to provide television coverage.

"Cricket has a long-standing and successful relationship with the Nine Network but team selections and scheduling are matters for Cricket Australia," Sutherland said. "The National Selection Panel selects the Australian teams. With the volume of international cricket being played, it will continue to be necessary for us to manage player workloads appropriately.

"We'll continue to consult with our broadcasters on scheduling issues. It's something we have always done. We have a common goal with our broadcast partners to maximise the number of fans watching and enjoying cricket. We'll consider all ideas and then make the appropriate decisions."

Following the Sydney meetings, Nine and CA were engaged in a public slanging match after the stand-in ODI captain George Bailey responded to suggestions he was leading a "B-team" by contending that it was in Nine's interests to talk the game down somewhat as it entered broadcast negotiations. This drew a furious response from the network's executive producer of cricket, Brad McNamara.

"Nowhere has Channel Nine ever talked the one-day game down, nowhere have we ever said this is a 'B team'," McNamara told an Australian radio station. "It's rubbish and George should stick to playing cricket and leave rights to the people who know what they're talking about. 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]."

At the announcement of the broadcast deal, Nine's chief executive David Gyngell had rejected suggestions the network would seek assurances that rotations would be reduced. "No, I don't have those political discussions with James," he said. "I don't agree with the rotation policy, but not enough to not buy the cricket. That's up to James to sort out."

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

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Posted by   on (June 23, 2013, 11:00 GMT)

Although I understand the rationale behind player rotation (burnout, player fatigue, travelling and packed schedule), the Board needs to realize that top players are not just big draws but they are also your best performers. The fan wants to see the best level of cricket possible and it's only the best players who can do that. So what we want to see are duels between Anderson and Clarke and Pattinson and Pietersen, and not forced contests between second string players. Australia can learn a lot about player rotation and management from South Africa who have players like Amla, Morkel and de Villiers who regularly play all three formats.

Posted by zenboomerang on (June 20, 2013, 7:08 GMT)

Not even really much of a story - Packer took over Oz cricket 30 odd years ago & the company has been telling CA what to do ever since... Coincidentally it was the start of falling crowds at domestic cricket - or more likely the media's only focus was on their product much to the detriment of SS & grade cricket... Really CA should have long ago made media contracts which supported/promoted SS or at least done a deal with ABC TV to broadcast Shield & Womens cricket on one of their 6 channels...

What did upset the gravy train for Ch9 was the start of the BBL (2 summers ago) which interferred with their own product which Ch10 will make sure delivers more & more each year... About the only smart thing that has happened to cricket in Oz for decades (as far as the media is concerned)...

Posted by stickboy on (June 20, 2013, 5:30 GMT)

I think the audience should be able to vote who is selected, then none of the public can complain anymore. They should register real cricket fans and then let us vote. Sounds pretty absurd but i reckon it'd be a great thing to try. Obviously it'll never happen though. I think the nine commentators would be way better than current selectors.

Posted by zenboomerang on (June 20, 2013, 3:00 GMT)

@200ondebut :- "The person who pays their TV licence/subscription is the one who is ultimately picking up the tab..."

Not in Oz... Tests are all on 'Free To Air' with no TV licences (went out in the 1970's) as are ODI's - now with Channel 10 picking up the BBL for the next 5 years, that will be on FTA as well... Actually its part of Federal law that Tests must be shown on FTA TV in Oz...

On another note, it would be a lot cheaper for me to get sport cable TV ($832 annually) than watch a 5 day Test ($1,500 for 4 adults + $1,000 food & drink - $50/day/person) at the Gabba, let alone the ODI's & BBL matches...

Posted by redneck on (June 20, 2013, 1:35 GMT)

this would be a great idea, chanel 9 could have richie as head selector and tubbs, slatts and heals as his deputies. thats better than any selection panel that cricket australias ever put together!!!

Posted by nzcricket174 on (June 20, 2013, 0:30 GMT)

I will never forgive CA for not letting Michael Hussey finish his international career at his home town of Perth. I was livid when I found out he was dropped from the ODI team. It would have been such an occasion. The WACA would have been packed out for both games. Instead, we got two crap games, with poor attendances. The BBL games were selling out, while the ODIs got 5000 or so to them. I wish I could have seen Huss retire in Perth, the place he grew up, plied his trade and loved so much.

Posted by Chris_P on (June 19, 2013, 23:21 GMT)

I would suggest Shane Watson's continued selection means it already does.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (June 19, 2013, 20:45 GMT)

@200ondebut, as a punter, I accept that there needs to be rotation of personnel in a cricket team, usually this is the bowlers who are selected based on conditions and work loads. There are other factors like strength of opposition and external factors.

Lets not forget that Football, Rugby and other team sports have had rotation policies for years and its not impacted the teams or fans enjoyment in the main.

Posted by Lees_Legends on (June 19, 2013, 17:57 GMT)

@200ondebut: Good logic, but Channel 9 is a free-to-air channel and there is no 'tab to pick up'. (television and electricity aside). Agreed about the spectators that fork out their hard-earned to go watch live though.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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