Cricket Australia bracing for TV civil war
CRICKET Australia is bracing for a TV ratings civil war, with a scheduling disaster ensuring the Big Bash will sink the national team.
Chris Lynn may have been banished from Australian duty, but he's set to out-rate them in Brisbane Heat colours for one night only on January 19, as cricket turns itself upside down with a schedule that irritated broadcast bosses never want to see again.
The Australian team being forced to flee to India in the heart of the summer in mid-January is unsatisfactory as it is, without the third ODI in Bengaluru directly clashing on a Sunday night prime-time slot with the Heat v Melbourne Renegades at the Gabba.
The Brisbane BBL match will be shown on Fox Cricket and Channel 7, meaning a potential series-deciding blockbuster between the two biggest heavyweights in world cricket will be completely cannibalised in the ratings by a domestic match.
Fox Cricket is frustrated that they've paid for the rights to the Indian ODI series, only for it to be pitted against a Big Bash game that will split its audience and also be shown on free-to-air.
It's a dubious look for the Australian team to be set up to fail against its own T20 competition.
The Australian match will start at 7pm AEDT on Fox Cricket 501, with the toss for the BBL at 7.10pm on channel 503.
Channel 7 wouldn't be upset about the Brisbane BBL game featuring Lynn and South African superstar AB de Villiers being scheduled for the prime-time slot, as it helps safeguard against its coverage losing momentum before the Australian Open tennis kicks off the following night on Channel 9.
Especially when it's the second leg of a BBL double-header on the 19th, which will already have a captive audience tuned in.
But 7 isn't thrilled with the scheduling chaos either as it has taken all of Australia's big international names, such as Steve Smith and Aaron Finch, out of the country at a time when they're trying to make the Big Bash sing.
Fox Cricket opposed the scheduling decision, but lost out.
Mark Waugh has declared the Aaron Finch v Virat Kohli showdown is a rare best-in-the-world centrepiece, but the collision course schedule will result in more eyeballs watching the Heat trying to take down a Renegades side ironically missing the ODI captain.
"Both squads are pretty much at full strength, which you don't often see in world cricket, particularly with the schedules. It should be a very evenly matched series," said Fox Cricket expert and ODI great Waugh.
"India is looking to be No.1 in the world rankings if they can beat Australia in this series.
"I think this is the best one-day squad we've put together for quite a while, even allowing for the World Cup.
"We've got good strike power with the ball and the Indians won't be overly comfortable against that sort of pace."
In Cricket Australia's defence, the fact Australia is heading to India on Thursday for the three one-dayers, starting next week, is due to reasons largely out of their control.
The all-powerful BCCI demanded an old debt be paid in the heart of January, and therefore a planned home series against New Zealand was effectively hijacked.
But had that series against New Zealand gone ahead as planned in Australia, it's difficult to imagine administrators would have scheduled a night-time BBL match to go up against the national team.
Cricket Australia bosses are under no illusions that they cannot allow the national team to fly overseas in the middle of the summer again, with Fox and 7 paying $1.18 billion over six years, two of which have already expired.
Watch every single KFC BBL match LIVE & On-Demand on KAYO with FOX CRICKET's unmatched commentary line-up. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >