Cricket: The 2014/15 Schedule … Biggest winner = BCCI

Cricket Australia yesterday announced the schedule for the test matches to be played between Australia and India in the 2014/15 season.

This announcement had been much anticipated given that there are only to be four test matches played in Australia in summer 2014/15 in the lead up to the World Cup which takes place in February / March 2015. That meant that one of the traditional venues (if you don’t count Bellerive Oval) would be missing out and it was announced yesterday that that venue is Perth.

This is a somewhat unexpected result given the obvious preference of Channel 9 to have a test match held in prime time to allow for maximum viewing coverage in the Eastern states. At least, I had thought it was unexpected till I thought about how this sets up the series now for the combatants. Simply: after playing the first test at the Gabba, widely regarded as the best wicket in the land, the final three tests will take place on our most benign of surfaces in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. That scheduling plays right into the hands of the Indians doesn’t it?

Of course it does: with their phalanx of flat track bully batters combined with the best spin bowlers in the world (outside of G Swann) they will now play Australia in three of four test matches at venues that will suit their style of play rather than the hosts.

This is yet another example of Cricket Australia not scheduling to give Australia the best chance to win and, rather, chase the dollars that comes from the BCCI touring and being happy. If India are losing then the TVs in India will be turned off which will leave the BCCI unhappy which is not a situation, seemingly, that Cricket Australia could countenance.

It is utterly ridiculous for Cricket Australia to have not scheduled a test match in Perth where, aside from fixtures where South Africa’s pacemen have dominated, Australia has been largely undefeatable. I, for one, would have looked at ditching the Sydney Test match from the schedule and retaining the test match in Perth. Now before Sydney fans eviscerate me consider this: the SCG plays host to a Quarter and a Semi final of the World Cup and thus, arguably, will have enough “big” cricket to replace the test match.

Of course, the removal of the Adelaide test match was also an option however that option was always going to be unlikely given that the Adelaide Oval seems to be the metaphorical darling of Cricket Australia at present with it having received a World Cup Quarter final over competing claims from Perth and Brisbane.

I know this is sacrilege to suggest but if winning was the goal Cricket Australia needed to bite the bullet and schedule a test match in Perth and ditch either of the Adelaide or Sydney tests. Actually, come to think of it, if winning was the goal then a test match on the minefield that is the Bellerive Oval pitch would also have been preferable that playing on the benign wickets that will be thrown at the Indians when they tour.

Unfortunately, based on current evidence, the goal of winning remains secondary to that of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for those at Cricket Australia Towers. When will they learn?

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