England news May 3, 2013

Durham hand back India, Australia fixtures

Durham have given up the chance to host India and Australia during the 2014 and 2015 seasons in the latest sign that the newer international venues in England and Wales are finding it a struggle to balance the books in what are costly ventures.

They have handed back a Twenty20, which had been allocated to them against India in 2014, and an ODI against Australia for the following year. These matches will now be put back into a tender process for other grounds to host.

When Durham initially bid for matches the package they earned included matches against Sri Lanka (2014) and New Zealand (2015) which the club will retain. They were then offered the India and Australia contests at a fixed sum which they accepted but have now decided are not in their best interests.

"They are attractive fixtures, but how lucrative they are is another matter," David Harker, Durham's group chief executive said. "We decided to be cautious over what we could expect to sell to the public when the matches were reasonably close together."

The club were given an indication of potential problems when last year's Twenty20 against South Africa did not sell out. Finances are currently stretched at the club and they have not been able to afford an overseas player this season.

Durham will host their first Ashes Test later this year and retain the Test they are due to host against Sri Lanka in 2016. "We have a very good track record in tickets," Harker said, "and are confident in selling the matches we retain."

David Collier, the ECB chief executive, said: "Today's announcement is in line with Durham's long-term business plan and means that the club will host an optimal number of major matches over the four year period whilst allowing the North East region to continue to benefit from regular international cricket."

In March this year, Durham's Labour-controlled county council, agreed in principle to invest £2.8m in the club to help it through straitened financial times. The decision came against a backdrop of job losses and planned cutbacks amounting to £200m by 2018.

The council justified the investment on the basis of an independent impact report which concluded Durham would contribute almost £20m to the local economy this year, and a further £40m over the next three years.

It was also incumbent upon Durham, however, to show that unnecessary risks were not being taken with taxpayers' money.

Durham are not the first county to find hosting international cricket financially difficult. Yorkshire opted not to bid for 2013 and 2015 Ashes Tests because of the cost, while Glamorgan were plunged into financial problems after becoming a Test venue when the 2011 match against Sri Lanka was badly hit by weather.

Cardiff had been due to host the first Test against West Indies last summer, but it was put back out to tender after Glamorgan said they would be late paying their staging fees for the Sri Lanka match although they have been awarded a 2015 Ashes Test.

When the bidding process for international matches was first introduced it was done on a blind basis which often forced counties into levels of financial commitment they could not afford. The latest allocations, which took place last year, had set packages that counties could bid for ranging from £200,000 to £12 million and they were then judged against various criteria.

Additional information was added to this story on May 4

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on May 6, 2013, 7:22 GMT

    I wont be there in 2015. It should have been Australia in 2017 and England in Australia 2015 -16. However Cricket Australia are too busy being a marketing body and scheduling an Ashes series straight after an English summer tour. I will like to see their reaction if we lose both series. I will be there this summer and look forward to my visits to Trent Bridge and Old Trafford as well as Lords for sightseeing. I will back in 2019

  • Dummy4 on May 6, 2013, 5:38 GMT

    I think this is not a correct move by Durham management. England Vs. Australia and England Vs. India are always been crowd pullers in England. I am really surprised that they have given up these two games and holding back Sri Lanka and New Zealand games. The only possibility I am thinking that the ECB would have asked big money from Durham management to host Australia and India matches and no Durham may be finding it difficult to finance it. If the amount is the same for all four games, every one would have picked Australia and India matches instead of Sri Lanka and New Zealand matches.

    Since this article did not reveal much on the financial commitments to stage each of the matches, it is very difficult predict what made the Durham management to change their minds.

  • david on May 4, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    not sure this bidding is the way to go, some of the games the county has bid so high that every thing has to go right weather opposition etc. yorkshire and glamorgan have had their fingers burnt. i hope my own county lancs has done their sums as its aus they should be ok. but counties could go to the wall quite easy if they get it wrong.

  • Carl on May 4, 2013, 14:20 GMT

    Fact is there were enough test grounds in the country before Durham etc started spending money on developments. The ECB should have stopped them from wasting their money as I'm not sure any of the new grounds have had much success.

    There's no harm in giving some of the smaller games to less well developed grounds and it would save so much money when trying to get them up to a standard for the bigger games.

  • Divyesh on May 4, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    Did Durham take into account the cricket-mad Indian fans in this country? Any game involving India would have been a sell-out.

  • Dummy4 on May 4, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    Any county chief exec of a non test ground with aspirations of test status, should think very carefully. England now has far too many grounds with international status, it was much better when there were just 6 test grounds. I think we currently have about 10 which is simply not sustainable for the counties which have invested large sums to join the elite group.

  • Dummy4 on May 4, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    Shaikh there was a series between Australia and Pakistan in England.

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    It's England vs India in 2014 and England vs Australia in 2015.

    I thought getting international cricket was the whole point of spending all that money on a central ground, rather than tour Stockton, Hartlepool, Darlington, Gateshead, etc?

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2013, 17:56 GMT

    India vs australia series are possible in england?

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