Cricket Australia’s decision to slash $40 million from its budget has been criticised.
Cricket Australia’s decision to slash $40 million from its budget has been criticised.

Old Enemy’s ‘Disneyland man cave’ to lure Aussies

DANIEL Ricciardo eat your heart out.

Australia's cricketers are set to hit the Formula 1 racing circuit as part of a high-octane COVID-19 bubble England are assembling to entice them over to the UK in September.

Details have emerged about the virtual Disneyland the England Cricket Board are hoping will entertain Australia's biggest stars should they agree to quarantine under strict conditions for two weeks before playing six white ball internationals.

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Golf and F1 simulators along with extra-large screens for gaming would be set up in Australia's team room during their stay in a bid to keep players' sane inside the four walls of their unprecedented bio-security bubble.

IT is understood the Australians would likely be based at either the Ageas Bowl in Southampton or Old Trafford in Manchester, cricketing venues which both have hotels on site.

T20 superstar Marcus Stoinis grew up with Australian Formula 1 star Ricciardo in Perth, but would need to crack back into the national set-up to school his teammates in the art of virtual racing.

Quarantine wouldn’t be so bad in the ‘Disneyland’ bubble. Picture: Andy Kearns/Getty
Quarantine wouldn’t be so bad in the ‘Disneyland’ bubble. Picture: Andy Kearns/Getty

The Ageas Bowl also has a golf course adjacent to it, which Australia's keen army of golfers including David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell would be permitted to have a hit at, with outside exercise allowed once a day.

Under the current conditions, Aussie players would not have their hotel rooms cleaned on a daily basis and they would not be allowed to order room service - with all meals to be shared together in a reserved area of the hotel.

Australian star Adam Zampa said last week he would have no issue travelling to England to play under strict bio-security protocols.

Virtual reality golf would be supplied in the bubble.
Virtual reality golf would be supplied in the bubble.

All of England's 18 matches this summer will be played between Southampton and Manchester, with the success of series against the West Indies and Pakistan starting next month to determine whether Cricket Australia will then agree to allow their players to fly via charter plane into one of the world's worst ravaged COVID-19 countries later in the winter.

Should the Australians be facing the same two-week quarantine period currently in place for the West Indies and England, Aaron Finch's troops will be allowed to train and have net sessions whilst in isolation.

Australia generally arrive overseas for tours at least a week in advance anyway, making the 14-day period more like an extended camp - the real imposition looming at the other end when players would have to isolate for another two weeks on arrival back home.

Players would be tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival in the UK and provided results are negative, Justin Langer could hold his first training session 24 hours later.

Thirty England players will assemble at Southampton in advance of the first Test against the Windies in mid-July, with players to be subjected to two COVID-19 tests each week as well as daily temperature tests.

As would a F1 simulator. Picture: Sarah Keayes
As would a F1 simulator. Picture: Sarah Keayes

Every part of Australia's tour would be pre-planned to prevent any contact with the outside world.

For example, when making the four-hour commute between Southampton and Manchester for matches, the Aussies would travel in three separate buses and would not be allowed to stop at service stations for refreshments.

Instead, a county ground on the way, at either Derby or Birmingham would be deep-cleaned in advance and the players would stop to have lunch there.

A 1500 square metre medical screening and testing facility will be built at each ground, which personnel must pass through and even media will be subjected to COVID-19 tests.

Grounds will have one-way systems to ensure social distancing, with extensive signage and visible instructions implemented and players will be completely isolated in their own zone separate from groudstaff and media and broadcasters.

CA'S CONTROVERSIAL COVID RESPONSE PUT UNDER SPOTLIGHT

A fresh spotlight has been shone on Cricket Australia's controversial response to COVID-19 after its leading State association declared it wouldn't make a single job cut.

Cricket NSW has doubled its investment in grass roots cricket over the past two years and influential Chairman John Knox says his organisation would not be scaling back any aspect of its operations at a time when CA was forced to slash $40 million.

 

In contrast to the 40 job cuts at head office, which have come after staff were stood down for almost three months, Cricket NSW decided it would be preserving all jobs after deciding to not make hasty decisions at the onset of COVID-19.

"We continue to invest significantly in the game of cricket," Knox told The Ticket podcast with Tracey Holmes.

"We have no intention to make any cuts at all in our head count.

"We continue to invest in our community cricket, we've got nearly 90 people employed in delivering critical cricket services to the grass roots and we're going to continue to invest hard and grow the game.

"We've deliberately made the decision that we think the summer of cricket looks great ahead of us and we're going to continue to grow what we think is the greatest game in the country."

Knox has emerged as one of the most powerful cricketing figures in the country after telling former Cricket Australia Chairman David Peever back in 2018 that he had lost the confidence of NSW, and then in the past couple of months' refusing to bow to CA's requests for financial cuts due to a lack of evidence provided.

Many around the game believe CA wouldn't be in the mess they are currently in if they'd followed NSW's playbook and simply ridden out the crisis for a few weeks until the likely impact on the coming summer became more clear.

Former Test captain Ian Chappell said on the podcast that Cricket Australia has always been a "secret society" with its finances, and doubted much would change with the appointing of a new CEO following the sacking of Kevin Roberts.

 

Chappell said it was imperative trust was restored between CA and the players association, and suggested Cricket Australia could also conceivably point the finger at the Australian Cricketers Association for not making changes at the top like they have done by purging Roberts and Peever.

WACA Chairman Tuck Waldron said CA needed to be looking for a "people person" to replace Roberts, not a business expert.

Waldron's chief executive in Western Australia Christina Matthews has a strong and personal presence as her greatest asset in being a potential candidate for the role.

"Above all, sport like everything else is about people," he said.

"The key for me is honesty, integrity and being upfront and taking people with you.

"The great achievements used to come when people took others with them on a journey - and that's what we need.

"There's been a bit of an upset in cricket in the last couple of years but let's hope now we can get in a position and go forward."

Knox said the criteria for the next CEO was simple.

"It's just about leadership," Knox said.

"We need a great leader who has the passion to drive this game and work with everyone in the game … and there's plenty of great leaders in the game of cricket."

 

TEST SELECTION THE LATEST TASK MIGRATING TO ZOOM

Justin Langer admits he can envisage the Aussie team being selected by Zoom as he vowed to roll his sleeves up in response to cuts to his support staff.

The national coach said advising batting coach Graeme Hick on Wednesday that he was made redundant was one of the toughest experiences of his career in cricket.

Langer said the touring party that travels with the Australian team on the road will shrink in size, but declared it would not compromise on support, expectation or performance as he prepares for a possible return to international competition against England in a quarantine bubble in the UK in September.

It’s been a tough few days for Justin Langer.
It’s been a tough few days for Justin Langer.

One huge change could be that players could have their international futures decided on Zoom.

For decades, one of the staples of Australian Test cricket has been the presence of a specialist selector on tour - but Langer said that in the post COVID-19 era, it's possible National Selectors Trevor Hohns and George Bailey may meet to help him pick teams from the other side of the world via video link.

Langer said it can work.

"If you'd have asked me 12 weeks or 10 weeks ago, I'd have thought it's nice to have a selector around or other people. For the players, it's nice to see some other selectors around at times," said Langer.

"But look at the way that these technology platforms (connect) and the fact that we are doing this now (press conference via zoom), I'm sure there's going to be scope for using a lot more of this technology to make these decisions, to talk to the captain, to talk to the senior players and that'll be a part of it."

Trevor Hohns and Justin Langer might have to hook up via video link.
Trevor Hohns and Justin Langer might have to hook up via video link.

Langer said the make-up of the how teams will be selected was still being worked through by high performance chief, Ben Oliver.

"I haven't spoken to Ben about how the selection stuff will work yet. No doubt we'll work on that. I'm assuming he's caught up with Trevor Hohns and George Bailey. I know he had conversations with them yesterday," he said.

"I think there'll be more in-depth conversations to work through actually how this is going to work. So, we're aware of it now and now it's to do our job, to get creative and work out how it's best going to work for the organisation and for the team."

Langer has been forced to work part-time since April 16, but said he would not criticise Kevin Roberts over his decision to stand down staff at the onset of the COVID-19 affair.

The Australian coach said he's been rocked by the demise of Roberts and the redundancy of former England international, Hick, news he had to deliver himself over the phone on Wednesday.

"It's been a tough few days actually, that's the truth of it. Having to tell Hicky yesterday morning was like facing Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh without a helmet and a box on," said Langer.

"I was that nervous because you become good friends with them. He's a ripping human being. There's no doubt about that. You couldn't meet a person with greater integrity than Graeme Hick and his work ethic is unbelievable. Knowledge of the game unbelievable. So it's a really tough call.

"It's nothing he's done it's more the impact of the cost cutting that we're doing because of the COVID situation. It was really hard as it was seeing Kevin Roberts go the other day."

It appears that a scheduled tour against Zimbabwe in the Top End in August will be scrapped due to COVID-19 but a trip to England - a country ravaged by the virus - is firmly on the cards.



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