Australia have called off hosting Bangladesh later this year for financial reasons, arguing that it no longer makes sense to play top-end matches, usually played in north Queensland and the Northern Territory, out of season because they get “swamped” by the major football codes.
The ICC’s Future Tours Program (FTP) had Australia down to play two Tests and three ODIs at home against Bangladesh in August and September 2018, the latter’s first bilateral tour down under since 2003. However, the trip was scrapped because Australian free-to-air broadcasters are understood to be uninterested in televising the series in the middle of the football season. Cricket Australia communicated to the BCB that the tour was not “commercially viable”.
Such a decision, which mirrors the BCCI’s refusal to play a day-night Test in contravention of CA’s wishes, sums up the ad hoc manner in which bilateral tours have been organised and cancelled at various points in recent history, invariably at the expense of the less financially strong countries.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that one of the alternative options discussed was Australia touring Bangladesh after the 2019 World Cup. The BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury stated: “We have proposed some options and are now waiting for their response.”
James Sutherland, the CA chief executive, explained the cancellation was related to the timing of the series, plus the fact that apart from India, England and South Africa, the rest of the world’s cricket nations including Bangladesh only play Australia sporadically, particularly during the southern summer.
“The way in which everything works in cricket is that it’s really at the home team’s discretion to work things out as to how much they want to host and what they want to host,” Sutherland had told ESPNcricinfo earlier this year. “There’s obviously an element of reciprocity between what we do, we do that with England, India South Africa.
“We commit to content in other parts of the world under the previous or current cycle, every six years you are at least committed to playing away, but we don’t have to play at home or we can vary the programme at home according to our needs and I think we just got squeezed a little bit.
“To be honest it hasn’t been a great success, playing in the past as we have in northern Australia. Even more so now with the rise of the profile of the football codes, particularly NRL and AFL, it just means we get swamped and it doesn’t make sense. Besides the huge cost to play up there and getting broadcasters and what have you to pick it up, just makes it difficult.”
However, Sutherland said that such arrangements will no longer apply when the Test Championship whirs into life in the second half of 2019. From that point, Australia and all other nations will be compelled to host the teams they are drawn against.
“If we get drawn to play [Bangladesh], and we’re drawn to play it at home, once you’re in a championship situation, the context puts you in a position of wanting to win every game and needing the points and not compromising. So you need to play at home and to try to win because those points count for something that at the end of the day might really matter to finishing one or two and qualifying for the final.”
The call to scrap the tour was made before CA finalised an A$1 billion television and digital rights deal with the Fox Sports and Seven networks. It is not clear whether or not Fox was offered the chance to broadcast the series on its pay television network.
Final details of the FTP to feature the World Test Championship, set to begin with the 2019 Ashes in which England hosts Australia, are expected to emerge soon.