Cricket Australia (CA) are terrified of the BCCI, cricket’s most powerful governing body, and were willing to change the scheduling of the current tour to meet their demands.
That is according to satellite broadcaster Seven who have now begun legal action to determine if CA bowed to the wishes of the BCCI. If evidence is uncovered that supports the case, they could be entitled to damages amounting to millions of Australian dollars.
Seven’s contention is that the original intention was to start the tour with the test series, beginning with a day-night pink ball test in Adelaide. Instead, the limited over series – the three ODIs and the 3 T20Is – that follow them are being played first. Free-to-air broadcast partner Foxtel have exclusive rights to broadcast the limited overs matches, whilst Seven are the main TV channel which shows the tests.
They are also unhappy because the third and fourth tests have been put back to after the start of New Year, which is after the holiday period when most Australians will have returned to work. That means lower audiences and reduced advertising revenue.
And, to make matters worse for them, visiting captain Virat Kohli, the man they based their pre-series advertising campaign around, will be returning to India after the first test to begin his paternity leave.
The channel has now lodged a petition with a court in Sydney demanding access to emails between CA and the BCCI discussing the arrangements for the tour, and also with free-to-air broadcaster Foxtel.
Seven has an annual contract with CA worth US $70 million annually, having signed a five-year deal with the Australian governing body.
However, the relationship has become increasingly strained in recent months between the two parties, with the broadcaster accusing CA of diminishing the value of the product by playing games behind closed doors or in front of limited crowds because of the pandemic.
The latest dispute may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.