SYDNEY • Cricket Australia (CA) has announced it is laying off most of its administrative staff and will run a skeleton operation until at least mid-year owing to the financial impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the sport.
The country’s governing body on Thursday informed the majority of its staff that from April 27, they would have to remain home on reduced pay – reportedly 20 per cent of their regular salary – until June 30 at the earliest.
With international and domestic cricket postponed indefinitely because of the virus, its chief executive Kevin Roberts said the body had no choice but to impose wage cuts.
“The impacts on the sports industry of the coronavirus pandemic are bigger than any one sport,” he said.
“Cricket Australia – like all sporting bodies – is planning for a return to training/play, although no one is certain when this will be possible at this stage, and many scenarios are being considered.”
On the potential financial implications for players, CA’s website said that it was in “ongoing discussions” with the Australian Cricketers’ Association.
As for Australia’s 2020-21 home schedule – which includes the T20 World Cup and a blockbuster Test series against India – CA expressed confidence the Covid-19 crisis would not unduly disrupt the calendar and would proceed even if stadiums were empty.
Australian officials are reportedly so keen for the India series to go ahead that they are considering basing Virat Kohli’s men at a new luxury hotel with training facilities while under quarantine.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the South Australian Cricket Association had offered to house India at the Oval Hotel, which is based at the Adelaide Oval and set to open in September.
The Herald has estimated TV revenue from the series will be worth A$300 million (S$271 million) for CA, although the plan must be approved by government and local health officials as well as the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Like Australia, India is facing a financial headache of its own with the world’s richest cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League, on indefinite hold. While the plan is to hold the competition “in the later part of the year”, Sri Lanka has stepped in as a potential host.
Given the island nation has not been as badly affected by Covid-19 compared to India – 238 cases and seven deaths to over 13,400 cases and 448 deaths as of yesterday – its cricket president Shammi Silva is preparing a formal proposal for his counterparts to consider, saying “we have the venues and the resources to hold the IPL”.