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Bailey bags network for undermining team's status

Core strength … Mitchell Starc limbers up in training at the MCG on Thursday. Australia play Sri Lanka there on Friday.

Core strength … Mitchell Starc limbers up in training at the MCG on Thursday. Australia play Sri Lanka there on Friday. Photo: Getty Images

ACTING captain George Bailey says Channel Nine is deliberately talking down one-day cricket to secure a favourable broadcast deal.

Bailey, who will lead a below-strength team containing three debutants onto the MCG on Friday following the controversial decision to omit the retiring Michael Hussey and rest big drawcard David Warner, also said crowds for ODIs had taken a hit because sophisticated television coverage gave fans little incentive to get off the couch.

Nine was unimpressed with the decision to leave out Hussey, Warner and Matthew Wade, along with hamstrung captain Michael Clarke, for the first two one-day internationals of the summer against Sri Lanka, fearing a ratings blow. But Cricket Australia has described as offensive the depiction of Bailey's side as a ''B team''.

The Melbourne Cricket Club expects a much smaller crowd than the 46,581 which attended the Melbourne Big Bash League derby on Sunday night, and is preparing for between 25,000 and 30,000 to brave the hot weather on Friday.

Nine's exclusive negotiating window for a new broadcast deal has closed, allowing Cricket Australia to test the market with rival networks Seven and Ten. However, Nine's last-rights option puts it in the box seat to sign a five-year deal, which CA hopes will fetch a total of $500 million. Bailey suggested recent criticism from Nine's director of sport Steve Crawley was aimed at keeping a lid on the price.

''I can probably understand it coming from Channel Nine. They are going into negotiations about the TV rights and I think that was a pretty tactical move to try and talk down one-day cricket and what the Australian team is putting out,'' Bailey said.

''But it's still called the Australian cricket team, whether you're missing a few players through injury at any stage. For these two games this is the best side Australia can put out. There might be a few debutants in this game but I've got no doubt if guys perform well you'll see these guys a lot more in one-day cricket and you'll see some of them in Test cricket. The calibre of player is certainly there.''

Though ODIs in Australia regularly attract a television audience of more than 1 million people, and are of enormous financial importance to Nine and CA, the MCG has not had a crowd of more than 50,000 for a one-dayer since Australia and England drew 78,625 in the aftermath of the 2006-07 Ashes whitewash.

''I might have a bit of a left-field view but I think the way sport is shown on TV now is so good and you get so much information thrown at you that the better it gets delivered to the couch the less reasons there are to leave and watch it at a ground,'' Bailey said.

''Big Bash is popular because it goes for three hours and it fits in nicely. One-day cricket takes a bit longer and Test matches are becoming an event in themselves, it's as much about the spectacle and the event as the cricket. So one-day cricket, as far as crowds go, will be challenged at different times but I still think the actual cricket itself is very, very good … There's a huge element of luck in T20, and Test cricket will always be the ultimate test, and I think one-day cricket fits nicely in the middle those two.''

The five-match series against Sri Lanka is the first in Australia under altered rules for ODIs, the ICC's latest attempt to jazz up a tired format. The changes include an allowance for two bouncers an over instead of one, and a maximum of four fielders outside the circle in non-power-play overs instead of five.

Australia and New Zealand will host the 2015 World Cup and CA is trying to drum up interest in this season's games against Sri Lanka and the West Indies with campaigns such as ''Summer's Biggest Dress-up Party''. After the selectors unveiled a depleted squad this week for the first two ODIs, one fan told CA on social media that he would dress up as Mike Hussey, given the veteran batsman had not been invited.

Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene said one-dayers remained wildly popular on the subcontinent, which is cricket's commercial heartland.

''I think there is certainly a lot of interest in world cricket for the 50-over game and everyone is building a team for the next World Cup,'' he said. ''We've got a really big appetite for 50-over cricket. That's something that drives the [Sri Lankan] national team a lot; they enjoy their one-day and T20 cricket probably a lot more than Test cricket … ''

62 comments

  • I'm puzzled, Comm' Bank is playing vs Vodafone? Man Aussie sports are really corporate!

    Commenter
    jg
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    January 11, 2013, 9:17AM
    • And don't forget CA's promotion of a 'healthy lifestyle' through its connection with Kentucky Fried Chicken!

      Commenter
      davidbru
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      January 11, 2013, 11:37AM
    • @Davidbru

      Leave the chicken out of it!

      Commenter
      Finger Licking
      Date and time
      January 11, 2013, 12:47PM
  • Test and ODI rule.
    We dont need "popcorn" cricket full of has beens as well as money hungry new blood.

    Commenter
    FROG
    Location
    MANLY
    Date and time
    January 11, 2013, 9:29AM
    • Yeah, but look at it from a player's perspective... would you rather: a) play a 5-day game and get paid pittance; or b) play a 3-hr game a few times and get paid a bucket load??

      Commenter
      Tommy
      Date and time
      January 11, 2013, 12:13PM
  • "For these two games this is the best side Australia can put out"

    Come on mate, best side we can put out??? I'm an outside bolter to get in to this team!!! Rest & rotation is killing the spectacle of internationals in Australian cricket. 'Nuff said.

    Commenter
    Akeep Matif Inaja Besahdabed
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    January 11, 2013, 9:40AM
    • So you're saying that we should play players until they break down, leaving us with having to put in several debutantes. Or we could do this, that we if someone breaks down, we've got someone to take their place that has been tried at international level.

      Commenter
      ST
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      January 11, 2013, 10:34AM
    • ST, not one player that has broken down this Summer has been overworked. Watson initially broke down after a couple of balls. Under the rotation policy, Bird would've missed the Sydney test. He ended up with 7 wickets and man of the match. In all sports, you choose the best side. When an injury occurs, an opportunity arises for someone else to step up. As opportunities are rare, players outside the top 11 are hungry to step up and play.

      Commenter
      liklik
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      January 11, 2013, 12:06PM
    • @ST: YES! They are PROFESSIONAL sportspeople. Why in the heck are we "resting" players IN CASE they get injured?? Sure, rest them if they have niggles but resting them because they are tired is absurd. It's like a compulsory sickie at work or something.

      Commenter
      Tommy
      Date and time
      January 11, 2013, 12:15PM
  • George who?

    Commenter
    CW
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    January 11, 2013, 9:40AM

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