The WBBL and Sheffield Shield are set to feel the brunt of financial cuts.
The WBBL and Sheffield Shield are set to feel the brunt of financial cuts.

Sheffield Shield, WBBL face savage cost cuts

The Sheffield Shield, the WBBL, elite women's competitions and pathway cricket face cuts this year as Cricket Australia flags cost savings across the board.

This is despite a reluctance to accept from many quarters that there is a financial crisis in the game.

News Corp understands there is a proposal that next season's Shield fixtures be reduced from 10 rounds to eight, with the final abandoned.

There are similar plans to cut back two rounds of the Women's Big Bash League.

A spokesperson for Cricket Australia on Wednesday would not confirm details but said the aim was to make cuts while ­"preserving the integrity of ­competitions".

 

The game’s grassroots face a tough time. Photo: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright
The game’s grassroots face a tough time. Photo: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

 

Chief executive Kevin Roberts told staff, most of whom have been stood down on 20 per cent pay, there would be unavoidable pain ahead, which many took to mean permanent job losses.

Roberts said the organisation was yet to secure a $50m bank loan and he was pushing ahead with his intention to save money on player payments. Players have rejected this idea, saying the game is in a healthy position.

The proposal to slash the Shield and WBBL will cause further hurt in a game battling to understand the financial situation and will outrage both traditionalists and new cricket fans. The state second XI competition is also understood to be facing the axe along with much of the elite pathway competitions.

Justin Langer, who describes himself as a full-time coach on a part-time salary, told the ABC at the weekend he thought the crisis gave a chance to go back to state and club cricket roots.

"More emphasis back on club cricket, more emphasis on state cricket then get the best of the best in Australia," he said.

"That would be my vision for the next five years."

 

Langer wants the game to consider its foundations. Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images/Getty Images
Langer wants the game to consider its foundations. Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images/Getty Images

 

In 2011, the Argus review made a point of insisting the Shield competition remain at 10 rounds and the game respect club cricket.

In 2019-20, only nine rounds were played when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the final games, but it is not the danger of spreading disease that is driving this decision.

Cricket Australia, meanwhile, is understood to be outraged that Victoria has slashed community cricket programs when head office wanted them to be protected.

Victoria, whose financial crisis predates the pandemic, is in the process of slashing jobs and programs. While Premier Cricket remains unscathed, the 45 staff administering community pro­grams will be reduced to 12 and there are suggestions more than 60 workers will be made redundant.

The state has made a series of disastrous financial decisions around its two BBL teams and is suffering losses from administering a new headquarters at the Junction Oval. Critics point out, however, the state has more than $20m in assets that it could have used to weather the immediate storm.

 

The women’s game will also be hit hard. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
The women’s game will also be hit hard. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

 

Victoria is in the frontline against Australian rules football in the fight for young talent and the cost-cutting move has annoyed the game's bosses.

NSW is understood to be keen to use its reserves to cover any immediate losses and is holding out against Cricket Australia's demands they accept a 25 per cent reduction in the money owed to them by head ­office. Queensland is also understood to be holding out.

The Australian Cricketers Association has rejected the need to make any adjustments to player payments. The players argue the game is in a better fin­ancial position than claimed and believe that any genuine losses - the cancellation of an Indian series, for instance - should be dealt with at the time.

An email has confirmed the players' commitment to the revenue share model that would react to negative impacts.

Originally published as Shield, WBBL face savage cost cuts



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