The Gabba has been awarded opening honours for India’s visit.
The Gabba has been awarded opening honours for India’s visit.

Gabba to kick off Indian summer

Brisbane has won the cherished hosting rights to the first Test against India next season despite standing its ground in a pay war against Cricket Australia.

Queensland is one of two states not to fall into line with the 25 per cent pay cuts demanded by CA due to the COVID-19 crisis and Brisbane officials had feared that their stance could threaten their chances of hosting India.

But Cricket Australia plans to kick off the Test summer with a day night match against Afghanistan in Perth on November 21 before a four course main meal against the Indians in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

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The Western Australian Cricket Association and state government will be furious to have missed out on the big ticket Indian tour.

The state spent $1.6bn on a new stadium but will host Afghanistan next door at the WACA as there will be no call for the larger venue.

The Gabba, despite a recent facelift, has been left behind the stadium stakes, but has the advantage of being a venue where the Australians have not lost for 31 years.

The schedule, to be announced soon, is a victory for player power with captain Tim Paine and senior players openly saying they wanted to start the Indian summer at the venue they were most likely to win at … Brisbane.

The announcement will be a massive relief for Queensland officials and a morale-booster in a month in which they have had to shed 32 staff.

India avoided the Gabba start in 2018-19 and won its first ever Test series on Australian soil, this year however they will be forced into a traditionally hostile welcome on the grassy track from December 3 and then a day night match at Adelaide starting December 11. Melbourne and Sydney retain their usual Boxing Day and New Year places in the schedule.

The schedule includes only three ODIs against the Indians in January at the Perth Stadium, the MCG and the SCG, but there are reports India may have agreed to play two more to help the hosts cover the loss of revenue from, among other things, the gate.

The Gabba has proved a happy hunting ground for Australia for well over three decades now.
The Gabba has proved a happy hunting ground for Australia for well over three decades now.

Venues may admit limited crowds by then, but it will be difficult for Indian fans to fly in for the series.

The only thing certain is the uncertainty of the summer as cricket waits to see if Australia will host a T20 World Cup or India will use the space for the IPL, so the fixture which will be officially released Thursday is subject to changes.

India is reported to be offering to give up the T20 World Cup it was due to host in October 2021 and allow Australia to host that event as compensation for losing this years tournament if it can use the space for the IPL.

The 2020 event was projected to raise around $20-30m for Australian cricket and the ICC was meeting overnight to examine its prospects of going ahead.

ESPN reported on Wednesday that the ICC was moving to take the 2021 tournament off India because the BCCI has failed to gain tax free status for the event from its government. The local board missed a number of deadlines to provide confirmation of the tax status.

A tax problem with the T20 World Cup in India in 2016 saw the ICC incur a loss of over $30m from expected revenue.

Cricket Australia has worked with the players and broadcasters to sketch the fixture which includes a top end ODI series against Zimbabwe in August and T20 series against West Indies and India in October that would have been a warm up for the World Cup.

Those series are not expected to take place if the World Cup is cancelled.

Australia’s Test side will not be walking out at the Perth Stadium this coming summer.
Australia’s Test side will not be walking out at the Perth Stadium this coming summer.

With the football codes about to kick the frost off the grass and rising expectations there may be crowds before the end of the winter there seems little doubt Australia will host Tests, BBLs and short format games this summer.

The issue of Australian players being freed to be part of the IPL from September to early November is yet to be dealt with, but approaches.

Players normally participate in their holiday period and will have to seek leave to play the domestic Indian tournament when they would normally be on national duties or playing for their states in the Sheffield Shield and one day tournament.

Pat Cummins was bought by the Kolkata franchise for $3.2m in the last player auction and the NSW quick is keen to fulfil his contract if there is no T20 World Cup.

"If that opens up a window I think the IPL would be a great fit," he said.

"T20s bring together the best players in the world, big tournament, I think it would be great for cricket to see. You have millions and millions of people watching that tournament around the world each year and I'm sure this year will be potentially even more after a long break off cricket. There's a lot of reasons why I'd want it to go ahead, but the main one is it's a great tournament. Great cricket.

"It's a once off. It's unprecedented. We'll wait and see. Obviously nothing is for certain yet. It's a great tournament.

"The T20 World Cup, even if we miss this Australian one, hopefully it only gets delayed to next year and (there's) another one in September in India schedule.

"There's so much big tournament T20 played. We need as much experienced as possible. I don't think anybody has gone over to IPL and haven't got something out of it. It's not necessarily a new problem. We've had champions league in that time of year for probably half a dozen years that clashed with domestic schedule here. Whatever solution is we'll sort it out."

The Australian women are set to host New Zealand for six matches in September-October and then three ODIs against India in January.

Originally published as Gabba to kick off Indian summer


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