November 13, 2007

Australian cricket

Pressure grows on Cricket Australia

Martin Williamson
Sri Lanka's <I>Sunday Times</I> protests against the media ban imposed by Cricket Australia. The caption reads: "This space is dedicated to what would have been an action picture of the Test match in progress in Brisbane. The black figure is courtesy of Cricket Australia." November 11, 2007
 © The SundayTimes
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As the row over Cricket Australia’s demands to charge agencies for access to international matches grows, the pressure on the board escalates, although it has, perhaps unsurprisingly, found an ally in the Indian board, an organization which is not averse to grabbing income from anywhere it can.

In Sri Lanka there is widespread anxiety that the public might miss out on a landmark when and if Muttiah Muralitharan breaks Shane Warne’s record of Test wickets. The Sri Lankan board has written to CA and Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times published a silhouette figure with its cricket coverage with a caption: "This space is dedicated to what would have been an action picture of the Test match in progress in Brisbane. The black figure is courtesy of Cricket Australia."

The subject has attracted comment across the globe. In the Gulf News, Gautam Bhattacharyya wrote:

Cricket Australia, one of the most progressive and professional bodies to run the sport, is now being termed as 'greedy.' It's very much a subject of debate, but what is certain is that they have set a rather dangerous precedent now.

In Jamaica’s Gleaner, Tony Becca points out that sports needs the media.

Cricket at all levels has been surviving because of sponsors, for sponsors' presence is key. And if the media, if the newspapers are not present, neither will the sponsor's product or service. Sport has become big business, but it has become big business partly because of the exposure and the coverage it receives from the media - and none more so than cricket.

Greg Baum makes a similar point in The Age:

This, though, is not about marketing. Mostly, cricket shares a mutually convenient relationship with media; cricket sells papers, papers sell cricket. It is true of other sports and other media

The Times of India's Partha Bhaduri takes off on the Indian board's stance.

There’s no denying the fact that such demands could spill over into written content as well, apart from changing the way the Internet functions and is regulated.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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