2017-18 Ashes Series Preview

We are almost there! We are almost ready to continue the most storied rivalry in world cricket!

It is Australia versus England in the 2017-18 Ashes Series, and it begins on Thursday with the first test match from The Gabba in Brisbane, and there has been a lot of debate in the build-up on both teams.

Australia are ranked fifth on the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test Match Rankings, the same position that they were on those rankings before the 2010-11 Ashes Series, a series which England won 3-1, and a rating that is 13 points less than the rating they had back before that series. There has been plenty of debate as to who should be in the Australian Cricket Team, and many people, including former players and so-called experts, have made their feelings known as to what they think about the selections made for the opening test match of the series, in particular the selections of Cameron Bancroft, Shaun Marsh, and Tim Paine.

Looking at these three divisive selections, Bancroft was a near-certainty to be selected in the team, having scored 442 runs across the opening three matches of the 2017-18 Sheffield Shield season for Western Australia at an average of 110.50, highlighted by a wonderful innings of 228 not out in the first innings against South Australia at the WACA, but what no one seemingly expected was that Matt Renshaw was going to be dropped in favour of Bancroft, who although was struggling with his form a touch, having made 70 runs across three Sheffield Shield matches, seemed under no pressure for his spot in the team just a few weeks ago.

Marsh was another one of those divisive selections, and although he has made three half-centuries so far this season in the Sheffield Shield, you feel like his level is going down a touch, and many people would have preferred the selectors to go with either Bancroft in this middle-order position, or if they had to drop Renshaw, to go with a younger player, such as a Jake Lehmann, or a player that could a match-winner for Australia, such as the ultra-talented, but potentially-flawed Glenn Maxwell.

However, the selection which probably created the most debate was the wicket-keeping position, and it came as a huge shock to many people that Tim Paine, and not Peter Nevill or Matthew Wade, was selected. Paine has battled a number of injuries, especially with his fingers for a number of years, but when he has been fit, Paine has proven himself to being a great gloveman, and with two half-centuries in his last two first-class matches, compared with zero between Nevill and Wade across six first-class matches, and it was a very easy decision in the end to go with Paine.

However, when you look at the Australian team, the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon will be expected to perform strongly throughout the series, but the key players who could decide whether Australia wins this series or not will be the likes of Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, and Pat Cummins, who along with the five I mentioned before, will be under pressure to deliver decisive contributions for Australia with bat, or in the case of Cummins, ball.

England are ranked third on the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test Match Rankings, one position higher than where they were before the 2010-11 Ashes Series, but with a rating seven points lower compared to before that series. In general, England appear to be a more settled team before this series, which can be a good thing, but they have also had their issues in the lead-up to this series, especially in regards to Ben Stokes.

Stokes was involved in a brawl outside a nightclub in Bristol back in September, and while there was damning video footage showing Stokes continually punching a person into submission, there is speculation that he may not be charged for what he did by local authorities, and could be in the England Ashes squad sooner than we may think.

Also, despite being more settled, I think there are some question marks on some players, not on the likes of Alastair Cook, Joe Root, Ben Stokes (if he plays a part in the series), Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, and James Anderson, but on the fringe players looking to fill the more open spots in the team.

Mark Stoneman looks set to fill the opener’s role alongside Cook despite his modest first-class record, but has passed 50 on all four occasions so far in the three tour matches for England, including scoring 111 against the Cricket Australia XI in Townsville.

James Vince also seems to be the likely candidate to bat at number three despite his mixed form, while Dawid Malan looks a near-certainty to bat at number five, and Chris Woakes, along with Craig Overton look set to be the extra bowling options to support Anderson, Broad, and Moeen Ali for the first test match in Brisbane.

So, who is going to win the series?

While I don’t think they will win 5-nil this time, I am favouring Australia to win the series by a scoreline of 3-1.

I think Australia will win the first test match in Brisbane, but England will hit back immediately to win the first-ever day/night Ashes Test Match at the Adelaide Oval. Australia will respond to this by winning what appears to be the final Ashes Test Match at the WACA in Perth inside four days thanks to a dominant performance by the Australian fast bowlers, before England respond in stoic style to force a draw at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to keep their chances of retaining the Ashes alive.

At the fifth and final test match of the series at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Australia will dominate most the match, forcing England into the position, where under normal circumstances, they would be forced to play for a draw in the fourth and final innings of the match. However, England decide to go after the massive target, but get bowled out with about eight overs left in the test match, losing the final test match by between 30 and 50 runs to give Australia back The Ashes.

2017 Women’s Ashes – Preview

The 2017 Women’s Ashes Series begins on Sunday when the Australian women’s cricket team takes on the English women’s cricket team in what is sure to be a fantastic series at a time when women’s cricket and women’s sport around the globe has never been more popular.

Unlike the men’s Ashes series, which is just five test matches, the women’s Ashes incorporates all recognised formats of the game, test match cricket, one day cricket, and Twenty20 cricket in a multi-format series where the two teams will play for points, with some matches, depending on the format, worth more than other matches, and the team with the most points at the end of the series wins the Women’s Ashes.

The 2017 Women’s Ashes Series will comprise of three one day internationals, one test match, and three Twenty20 internationals. Two points will be awarded for each victory in any of the one day internationals or Twenty20 internationals throughout the series, with one point to be awarded to each team should any of the one day internationals or Twenty20 internationals be abandoned, or if there is a tie between the two teams.

However, for the sole test match of the series, four points will be awarded for the victory, while two points will be awarded to each team should the test match end in a draw. It is also important to note that the test match will be a four-day match.

The history of the Women’s Ashes is very interesting considering the points system format was introduced for the 2013 series in England, and in the three series that have taken place under the points system, England have won two of the series, while Australia won the last series back in 2015 in England.

In terms of the one day internationals in a Women’s Ashes Series, Australia lead the head-to-head over England by five wins to four, while in the Twenty20 internationals in a Women’s Ashes Series, England hold the upper hand over Australia, claiming six wins to Australia’s three.

However, in the three test matches between the two teams since the Women’s Ashes became a multi-format series, Australia has won one, England has won one, while the other test match was a draw. However, what is important to note that whoever won the test match went onto win the Women’s Ashes Series.

Before the multi-format Women’s Ashes series came into existence, the Women’s Ashes was just test matches, just like the men’s Ashes have been. In the 18 Women’s Ashes test series played between the two teams, Australia had won seven, England had won four, while seven series have been drawn.

However, when you count the 45 individual test matches in each of those 18 test match series between Australia and England, Australia have won 11, England have won eight, but there have been 26 draws between the two teams.

So, overall in test matches between the two nations, Australia have won 12 of their 48 test matches against England, with England winning nine, and there have been 27 drawn test matches between the two teams in history, but you sense this will mean little when these two great sides come head-to-head in what is set to be an enthralling series.

However, Australia will be without their regular captain Meg Lanning, who is out with a long-term shoulder injury, which is a huge loss considering that she averages 41.27 across all forms of the game combined. This will mean that Rachael Haynes will captain the Australian team, and she will be under the pump after Australia’s semi-final exit from the Women’s Cricket World Cup earlier this year, but while the batting has generally been brilliant of late, it has been the bowling that has really put the team under huge pressure.

You sense from an all-rounder’s perspective that Ellyse Perry needs to have a great series if Australia are going to retain the Ashes. Averaging 40.54 runs per innings across all forms of the game combined, and taking a wicket at an average of 22.28 runs per wicket, Perry is the player that England must shut down.

Talking about England, they have a number of players who can take Australia down to reclaim the Ashes, with the likes of captain Heather Knight, Tammy Beaumont, Sarah Taylor, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, and Alex Hartley all playing instrumental parts in helping England win their third World Cup.

So, who is going to win the series?

Australia will be very hard to beat at home, there is no doubt about that, but England I feel come in with the strongest squad. I think England will win the one day international and Twenty20 sections of the series by two matches to one in each instance, but I think Australia will win the day/night test match that will ultimately play a critical part in the home side retaining the Women’s Ashes!

India vs. Australia – Limited Overs Series Preview

On Sunday, the limited overs series tour of India begins for Australia when they take on the Indian team in Chennai in the first of five one day internationals in a limited over series that also includes three Twenty20 Internationals.

The one day international series starts in Chennai (Sunday September 17), before moving to Kolkata (Thursday September 21), Indore (Sunday September 24), Bangalore (Thursday September 28), and Nagpur (Sunday October 1). After this, the Twenty20 International series begins, starting in Ranchi (Saturday October 7), before moving to Guwahati (Tuesday October 10), and Hyderabad (Friday October 13).

It is set to be an enthralling one day series to start off with between the third-ranked Indian Cricket Team, and the second-ranked Australian Cricket Team, before a captivating Twenty20 series between the fifth and sixth-ranked Twenty20 sides in the world.

It will also be the last time that the current laws in regards to bat sizes will be used, and on pitches that typically suit batsman in limited overs matches, the one day and Twenty20 series should be a guaranteed run feast with scores well in excess of 300 in nearly every innings.

The battle between the two captains in Virat Kohli and Steven Smith is going to be absolutely fascinating, both on and off the field.

Kohli, after the Test series earlier this year in India, said that he no longer considered players within the Australian team as friends after a torrid series in which India managed to win 2-1 after being pushed all the way by Australia, and Kohli didn’t have a good Test series against Australia, scoring just 46 runs in his five innings at an average of 9.20 in the three test matches he played in during that series, missing the final test of the series because of a shoulder injury.

However, in that same series, Smith had a brilliant series, scoring 499 runs in eight innings (one not outs) at an average of 71.28, but despite his magnificent contribution, he couldn’t quite lead his team to what would have been their first series victory in India since 2004.

And although there should be less tension in this limited overs series compared with the Test series, there still will be a lot of heat and pressure on the two teams.

In terms of the players to look out for in what is sure to be a batsman-dominated one day and Twenty20 series, I am looking forward to the battle at the top of the batting order between Rohit Sharma and David Warner.

Rohit Sharma has been in great form in one day international cricket in the 10 matches he has played in 2017, scoring 606 runs in 10 innings (two not outs) at an average of 75.75, and at a strike rate of 91.67, scoring three centuries, and three further score of 50 or more, achieving a top score of 124 not out against Sri Lanka last month in Pallekele in what was a match-winning innings in a low scoring run chase. He will play a big role in determining whether India can dominate over Australia during the one day series.

David Warner has also been in wonderful one day form in the eight matches he has played in 2017, scoring 446 runs in eight innings (one not outs) at an average of 63.71, and at a strike rate of 108.78, scoring two centuries, the highest score being 179 against Pakistan back on Australia Day in Adelaide. He will have a vital role, and could determine won wins the series.

As for who I am tipping for both the one day series and the Twenty20 series, both bowling attacks will have a huge say in who will win, even if they don’t take a bag full of wickets consistently, and with India missing both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for the opening three one day matches, and Australia missing Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood from the entire tour, it is set to be a really tough time for the bowlers.

I am predicting Australia to win the one day series by three matches to two, and India to win the Twenty20 series by two matches to one, assuming the weather is fine, but regardless of the result of both series, it is going to be exhilarating!

Bangladesh vs. Australia – Series Preview

For Australia, the pay dispute is over! For Bangladesh, the opportunity to challenge one of the better teams in world cricket on home soil is here!

It is Bangladesh and Australia in what is set to be one of the more intriguing series in recent times with Australia’s poor record in Asia, having only won two of their last 22 matches they have played in Asia, and while Australia last won a series in Asia back in 2011 (vs. Sri Lanka 1-0), the last time Australia won two test matches in one series in Asia was when they last toured Bangladesh, back in 2006 (2-0).

However, a lot has changed since then with both Bangladesh and Australian cricket, with Australia only the fourth-ranked Test match nation in the world, and Bangladesh, while ranked ninth in the ICC Test Match Team Rankings, are building nicely towards becoming a really strong team in the world of cricket.

However, just like in 2006 when they were led by Ricky Ponting, Australia are being led by a man who is considered by many to be the best batsman in the world in Steven Smith.

Smith in 54 Test matches has scored 5251 runs in 100 innings (14 not outs) at an average of 61.05, with 20 centuries and 20 more scores of 50 or more. However, when you discount his first 14 Test matches from this equation, in 40 Test matches, Smith has scored 4426 runs in 72 innings (11 not outs) at an average of 72.55, with 19 centuries and 15 more scores of 50 or more.

In addition, Smith has scored over 1,000 runs in the previous three years, and with 582 runs already to his name in 2017 with six test matches remaining for Australia this year, he looks set to score 1,000 runs for the fourth calendar year in a row if he continues his current vain of form.

They will also have an aggressive opening batsman in David Warner, a batsman in a similar mould, in terms of approach, to Matthew Hayden, who played in both Test matches of the series in Bangladesh back in 2006.

Warner, unlike Smith, has struggled in Asia throughout his career to date. Warner in 13 Test matches in Asia has scored 790 runs in 26 innings at an average of 30.38, with only one century, and a further five scores of 50 or more to his name.

This is compared to his performances in Australia, where Warner in 33 Test matches has scored 3257 runs in 59 innings (four not outs) at an average of 59.21, with 14 centuries, and a further nine scores of 50 or more.

However, the similarities between today’s Australian team, and the Australian team back in 2006 are few and far between, with a number of players either competing for places in the team, or wanting to find better form, particularly in Asia on turning pitches.

And although Australia will be without Mitchell Starc, they will have a strong two-man pace attack in Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, supported by Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar.

Both Hazlewood and Cummins performed well in the Test series against India earlier this year, with Hazlewood getting nine wickets in seven innings at an average of 32.77 in four matches, while Cummins, in his long-awaited return to test match cricket got eight wickets in three innings at an average of 30.25 in two matches.

However, it is batting, outside of Smith, that remains the question mark in Asia. Warner needs to improve his record in Asia, Matt Renshaw needs to continue his improvement at such a young age, Usman Khawaja needs to show all of us that he can play against quality spinners on turning pitches, Peter Handscomb must continue to show us that his technique can survive, both in an attacking and defensive way, on slower pitches, Glenn Maxwell must continue to show that he has the temperament for test match cricket, and Matthew Wade must continue to show that he can be dependable when the going gets tough, as well as be solid and secure with the gloves in the field.

That is without considering how strong their opposition is, particularly in their familiar conditions.

Bangladesh have really improved as a cricket team, particularly over the last three to five years, led by their wicketkeeper batsman Mushfiqur Rahim, who has been in sensational form with the bat so far in 2017, scoring 515 runs in eight innings (two not outs) at an average of 85.83 in four matches.

The other key players for Bangladesh include Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mehidy Hasan, and Mustafizur Rahman.

Shakib Al Hasan has been in terrific all-round form in 2017, scoring 550 runs in 10 innings at an average of 55, as well as taking 17 wickets in 10 innings at an average of 41.05 in five matches.

However, the big bowling threat to the Australian batsman has to be Mehidy Hasan. In his debut Test series, which was at home against England last year, he was a revelation, picking up 19 wickets at an average of 15.63 during the two match series, including picking up career best innings (6-77) and match figures (12-159) in the second test match of that series in Dhaka, the venue for the first test of this series, to help Bangladesh to their first-ever Test match victory against England. Even though he has struggled since then, this will be his first test match in Bangladesh since then, and the Australian batsman will be very worried about what he can produce.

So, who do I think will win the series?

If the weather is fine for both test matches, and the forecast doesn’t look encouraging for the first test match, which starts on Sunday from the Shere Bangla National Stadium in the Dhaka suburb of Mirpur, I believe we could have a very competitive series. I believe Australia will win the series, but it may only be a 1-0 series victory.

My view on the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association

The pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) has escalated to a level that no one had expected, or wanted it to go to.

However, with the June 30 deadline already passed, 230 cricketers in Australia are unemployment, and while the very best players, particularly the best male players in Australia are unlikely to feel the pinch of not being paid, the ongoing dispute over Cricket Australia’s desire to make changes to the revenue sharing model.

In most businesses, a revenue sharing model is the distribution of profits (and losses) between the stakeholders of a business, which could be general partners, employees, or between companies in some kind of business alliance or partnership.

The players in this circumstance are not only employees of Cricket Australia, they are also general partners of Cricket Australia, the major product for Cricket Australia and of the game of cricket, and the ability to generate profits, such as from ticket sales for matches, particularly big matches, such as international matches (Test Match cricket, One Day International (ODI) cricket, and Twenty20 (T20) International cricket), as well as domestic cricket, including the Big Bash League.

However, if the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the ACA continues on for a longer period of time, then the ability of Cricket Australia to generate profits from their major product, the players, will become close to non-existent, and this puts at grave risk the Tour of Bangladesh, the ODI series in India, and The Ashes series against England at home in Australia.

Cricket Australia’s motive for wanting to change the revenue sharing model is the need in their view to pour more money into grassroots cricket, and junior development programs, but at the expense of domestic male cricketers, the players who aren’t on the Contracted Players List at Cricket Australia, and female players, with payments increases capped at 18 percent and 150 percent respectively out of a total surplus revenue share for the whole game (both men’s women’s players, including contracted players at Cricket Australia) of up to $20 million.

The motive of the ACA for wanting to keep the revenue sharing model the way that it has been is about keeping on a path that strives towards equality in Australian cricket, and making sure that players at both international and domestic level in both the men’s and women’s games receive their fair share of the monetary pie. They also believe there is already more than enough funding going into grassroots cricket, and junior development programs at that level. They also believe that Cricket Australia is giving them little to no details on their plans for the future of Australian cricket.

Looking at both sides, I think we all agree that a lot more money should be put into junior development to help the stars of tomorrow.

However, should more money be placed into grassroots cricket, and what do you define as grassroots cricket?

Is it grade cricket in the major capital cities of Australia? Is it grade cricket in the major regional cities of Australia? Is it grade cricket in the regional towns of Australia? Or is it junior cricket across all cities and towns in Australia?

If grassroots cricket refers to junior cricket development, then everyone would agree investing money into that would be beneficial for everyone in Australian cricket. If grassroots cricket refers to grade cricket across all cities and towns in Australia, I don’t think you can invest vasts amounts of money into grassroots cricket.

Both sides of the pay dispute know that for a player to make it all the way to the top, and potentially play for Australia in the game of cricket, they must be identified at a young age, and both sides of the argument know that there is a very, very slim chance that a mature-aged cricketer is going to come up from lower grade cricket to end up suddenly playing international cricket for Australia.

So, it makes it all the more astounding that Cricket Australia hasn’t clarified to the ACA what they meant by the term “grassroots cricket” so that the ACA can readjust or reaffirm their side of the argument in terms of what the players want from the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

However, the biggest crux of the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the ACA is to do with the revenue share that domestic cricketers and female players could receive from the total surplus revenue share for the entire game.

Cricket Australia want payment increases capped at 18 percent (domestic male cricketers) and 150 percent (female cricketers) out of the $20 million surplus revenue share. The domestic payment cap doesn’t include cricketers playing in the Big Bash League, who would receive a 42 percent pay increase under Cricket Australia’s because they see it as the biggest revenue maker for them.

However, the Big Bash League has made a loss of $33 million over the last five years, and the host television broadcaster of the Big Bash League, Network Ten, is currently in receivership after being placed into administration last month, and at this stage, logic suggests its contract to broadcast the Big Bash League will not be renewed at the end of the coming season.

Though, that is not the reason why the ACA is furious about the cap on player payment increases.

The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) value domestic cricket, and feel that the Sheffield Shield and the Domestic One Day Cup is the best way to produce the best international cricketers, and believe the cricketers who primarily play at this level deserve to be paid their fair share, more than the 18 percent Cricket Australia says it should be.

In addition to this, the ACA feels that the player payment cap increases for female players shouldn’t be at 150 percent, because they want male and female players to have an equal say in the way the game of cricket is being run in Australia. They want to be equal partners in the game of cricket at all levels, and this what the talk about being partners in the game of cricket in Australia is all about!

It is not about Cricket Australia and the ACA feeling like they are equal partners in Australian cricket, because Cricket Australia is still and will remain the governing body of cricket in this country, but the ACA wants the players at all different levels, and of all different genders to be paid and treated equally.

On the otherhand, I think Cricket Australia is trying to send a message to the domestic male cricketers of Australia to think about playing first class cricket overseas, particularly in England during the Australian winter, to improve their games if you want to challenge for Australian selection.

However, there is no way Cricket Australia can get away with treating female cricketers the way that they are, and the ACA is holding them to account on that one!

However, the current pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the ACA affects more than just the players, it effects all broadcasters and narrowcasters, particularly television and live streaming providers.

In terms of live streaming providers that show primarily the lower levels of cricket, such as the Sheffield Shield, the Women’s National Cricket League and the matches of the Women’s Big Bash League that are not shown on television, the way that Cricket Australia is valuing domestic male players and female players by giving them a smaller share of the monetary pie (in their proposal) should have these narrowcasters alarmed!

Narrowcasters, or live streaming providers, who are already struggling to generate money to survive, despite many of them saying that they are growing, will be wondering, along with current, and prospective business partners, if live streaming cricket competitions that are not being valued by the game’s governing body in Australia, even if the ACA wins their debate over Cricket Australia, is the best way to go about their business? It is caveat emptor on that one!

However, in terms of the television broadcasters, their deals to broadcast in the game of cricket in Australia all comes to an end after the upcoming season, and things aren’t looking good for Cricket Australia on that front.

Network Ten, as I explained earlier, look set to lose the rights of the Big Bash League due to issues at the besieged broadcaster, but also because of the growing value of the competition, despite it making a loss, which may reflect badly on Network Ten more so than anyone else.

The Seven Network is currently under contract to broadcast the Australian Open (tennis) and Australian Open Series (tennis) until the end of 2019, so it is unlikely they will bid for any broadcasting rights to show any form of cricket in Australia.

The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) are also unlikely to be able to afford the sort of money Cricket Australia wants to broadcast cricket on television in Australia.

That just leaves the Nine Network, Fox Sports and Optus Sport as the only television broadcasters who could afford to cover cricket, and with the anti siphoning list currently the way that it is, the Nine Network is only suitable candidate to cover international cricket in Australia, as well as the Big Bash League.

However, I don’t think it will end up this way.

I suspect there may be changes to the anti siphoning list for the coverage of international cricket in Australia to allow competition for broadcasting rights so that Cricket Australia gets the money that it wants from the rights for the next four years or longer (depending on the length of the deals).

The Nine Network have been urged by financial analysts UBS to consider ending its long-term association with Cricket Australia and the game of cricket due to losses per year of $30-40 million during its current deal of around $500 million ($100 million per year), and explained back in April that “We think it would seem logical for Nine to enter negotiations with the following mindset: i) more cricket content at no additional cost, or ii) to step away from the cricket contract.”

However, with Cricket Australia wanting around $250-300 million for the television broadcasting rights of the Big Bash League, that is unlikely to happen.

So, will the Nine Network step away from covering the game of cricket in Australia?

I don’t think so, but I suspect the Nine Network will have to give up some of the cricket content they have in their current portfolio if they want to broadcast the Big Bash League.

The Nine Network still values Test Match cricket, and is covering Australia’s Ashes Tour to England in 2019, and decided to send their own commentators over to England in 2015 to cover The Ashes series.

So, I think the Nine Network will want to cover test matches in Australia, but I suspect they will have to lose the broadcasting rights to all other international cricket matches in Australia in order to get the Big Bash League, and maybe also the Women’s Big Bash League.

So, what would happen with the rights to one day international (ODI) cricket, Twenty20 international (T20I) cricket, women’s international cricket, and the online/mobile rights for covering cricket in Australia?

For Test Match cricket in Australia, as well as the Big Bash League and the Women’s Big Bash League, I would think it would be logical for the Nine Network to have the online rights through its 9Now service/app, or like they have in recent years, simulcast their coverage on cricket.com.au, and through the Cricket Australia Live App.

As for the rights to ODI cricket, T20I cricket, women’s international cricket, and the online/mobile rights to those three, I suspect Fox Sports and Optus Sport will be in a fierce bidding war for the rights to each of those three, and while I suspect Fox Sports would be the favourite to take the cake on all three, plus online rights through its Foxtel App, Optus Sport have been getting involved in Australian cricket over the last couple of years with addition premium extras and reports on each match, showing matches live in conjunction with the Cricket Australia Live App, and showing classic moments of years gone by.

If Optus Sport wins the rights to any, or likely all three formats/items, plus the online and mobile rights, Optus will need to consider calling a truce with Foxtel to allow Foxtel customers the access to Optus Sport, either by adding them to the existing sports package for a small fee increase, or be sold separately in a different/additional package to Foxtel customers.

If Fox Sports wins the rights ODI cricket, T20I cricket, and women’s international cricket, then I would suspect Optus will get the mobile rights to all cricket in Australia, including Test Match cricket, while Fox Sports would have the online rights to its coverage, plus having access to their coverage via the Cricket Australia Live App.

Another thing that will also need to be considered is whether either Fox Sports and/or Optus Sport would want to show Test Match cricket in Australia, the Big Bash League and the Women’s Big Bash League, particularly if they use their own commentators and score graphics, even though the Nine Network would be the host broadcaster?

All of this could give Cricket Australia the money that it needs in terms of broadcasting rights to then sort out its issues with the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) and the players, who I suspect would want the next television broadcasting deal sorted first so that they know what they are working with in terms of sorting out their pay dispute with Cricket Australia.

However, Cricket Australia want to sort out the pay dispute with the ACA first because they will have no chance of convincing television broadcasters that they should bid for a product where 230 of its key assets are unemployed.

Overall, both parties involved are at fault for where we currently stand right now, and are both situated between a rock and a hard place, putting at grave risk the Tour of Bangladesh, the ODI series in India, and The Ashes series against England at home in Australia.

In conclusion, and in my opinion, you may think that the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the ACA only affects the two parties in question, but as I have explained throughout this article, it is far from the truth, and that is sobering thought for everyone!

 

2017 ICC Champions Trophy – Preview

The first major one day international (ODI) tournament since the 2015 International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup will begin on Thursday as hosts England take on Bangladesh in the opening match of 2017 ICC Champions Trophy from The Oval in London.

South Africa come into the tournament as the top-ranked ODI team, with world champions Australia, along with defending champions India, New Zealand and hosts England all looking like serious threats to claim the ICC Champions Trophy.

This is not without discounting the chances of Bangladesh, who are ranked sixth in ODI cricket, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, who are all capable on their best day of challenging and upsetting their more fancied opponents.

However, in contrast to the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand where 37 out of the 49 matches were Day/Night matches, only two out of the 15 matches to be played during the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy will be Day/Night matches.

Looking at both groups, it appears that Group A (England, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh) is the slightly tougher group than Group B (India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan).

Group A

Looking in-depth at Group A, since the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand, it has been England who has had the better form.

Since their disastrous exit in the group stage of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, England has won 27 out of the 44 ODI matches they have played, with a winning percentage of 61.36 percent.

This is compared with Australia, who have won 25 out of the 42 ODI matches (59.52 percent) they have played since the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, New Zealand, who have won 24 out of the 43 ODI matches (55.81 percent) since that time, and Bangladesh, who knocked out England from the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, have won 16 out of the 28 ODI matches (57.14 percent) they have played since that tournament.

The rise in England’s performance is due to their changed mindset under Trevor Bayliss, and since the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, England have scored 300 runs or more on 21 occasions, and have bowled out their opposition on 15 occasions.

While Australia, who will be relying on Steve Smith (batting), David Warner (batting), Mitchell Starc (bowling), and Josh Hazlewood (bowling) to perform, and New Zealand, who will be relying on Martin Guptill (batting), Kane Williamson (batting), and Trent Boult (bowling) to perform, have not changed their approaches to one day cricket too much, England have changed their mental mindset and their approach to selecting a one day team, and it has reaped rewards.

They will be looking towards their two leaders in Eoin Morgan and Joe Root to lead the way with the bat, while Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes have been fantastic with ball so far in 2017, taking 20 and 17 wickets respectively.

Bangladesh have also improved a lot in one day cricket, and they will be looking to Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan to lead them towards glory.

However, I see England and Australia making it through to the semi-finals.

Group B

It is clear looking at Group B that the two strongest teams in this group are South Africa and India.

South Africa have won 26 out of 41 ODI matches (63.41 percent) that they have played since the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, while India have won 15 out of the 27 ODI matches (55.55 percent) since the last World Cup.

However, South Africa look in much better form in comparison with India after their performance against Australia last year, and the questionable form of Indian captain Virat Kohli.

They will be looking to Faf du Plessis (677 runs), Quinton de Kock (560 runs) and AB de Villiers (557 runs) to lead the way with the bat, with each of them scoring over 550 runs so far in 2017, while Kagiso Rabada has taken 21 wickets so far in 2017, and he will be the one to lead the South African bowling attack.

Although Kohli’s form is questionable after a long season of Indian cricket, the form of the other two teams in the group, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, are looking far worse.

Sri Lanka are going through a changing of the guard, and have only won one match so far in 2017, while Pakistan’s approach, not so much with their bowling, but with their batting has been ancient for quite some time, rarely scoring 300 runs or more per innings, and have only won three of their eight matches so far in 2017.

To me, South Africa and India are clearly better than the other two, and by some distance!

Final tournament predictions

In terms of who will win the tournament, I think South Africa are the favourites to win the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, and are my tip to win the tournament.

However, you can never rule out Australia of contending for any piece of silverware in the world of cricket, and as long as they are in the tournament, they will be the team that everybody fears!