Cricket Australia (CA) is blaming a “communication breakdown” for why its female stars will not take part in an upcoming T20 tournament in India.
- Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy are to miss out on playing in the women’s T20 Challenge next month in India
- A BCCI official was quoted in an Indian media article accusing CA of blackmail tactics
- CA is hopeful of meeting with BCCI officials in India
Australian stars Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy — among the best players in the world — are said to be frustrated at the missed opportunity to play in May’s four-match women’s T20 Challenge in Jaipur.
The competition is regarded as a stepping stone for a fully fledged women’s Indian Premier League in the future.
A leaked email from CA’s head of high performance, Belinda Clarke, to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) suggested the request for Australia’s top women’s trio would only be considered as a part of an exchange of favours relating to a men’s one-day international series between the two countries next year.
“We will be in a position to consider the request when the current issue regarding the men’s ODI series that was agreed in the FTP (Future Tours Program) for late January 2020 is resolved by Rahul (Johri, BCCI chief executive) and Kevin (Roberts, CA chief executive),” the April 5 email read.
“I understand that this is being worked through at present.”
The Australian position caused anger in India, with the Press Trust of India quoting an unnamed BCCI official who accused CA of “blackmailing tactics”.
CA’s executive general manager of public affairs Karina Keisler said her organisation had “every intention of participating” but that there had been a breakdown in communication between both sides.
“We’re sorry this has happened and are determined to ensure our relationship with India remains open and collaborative to avoid future such incidents,” she said.
“While we are in regular contact with the BCCI, there has clearly been a communication breakdown on this occasion, and the women have been impacted as a result.
“We are also very keen to ensure a strong working relationship with the BCCI.”
CA denied it was using its women’s game players to leverage the men’s calendar.
CA bosses set to meet with Indian counterparts
CA chief executive Kevin Roberts and chairman Earl Eddings have had plans for face-to-face meetings with their BCCI counterparts for some time and a trip to India is likely to take place next month.
Cricket’s stakeholders in both countries will be watching closely to see how Mr Roberts handles what has at times been a testy relationship with the BCCI.
Mr Roberts was criticised heavily before he was replaced as chief negotiator in CA’s most recent collective bargaining agreement with the Australian Cricketers’ Association in 2017.
CA’s then chief executive James Sutherland was brought in to mend the breakdown in the discussions.
Mr Roberts then took over from Sutherland as CA chief executive last year and was forced to deal with the fallout from the ball-tampering saga in South Africa and the release of the CA-commissioned review from The Ethics Centre.
“The most common description of CA is as ‘arrogant’ and ‘controlling’,” the report said.
“The core complaint is that the organisation does not respect anyone other than its own. Players feel that they are treated as commodities.”
Mumbai-based ESPN journalist Annesha Ghosh said the absence of the Australian women was a “step back” in India’s plans for a women’s Indian Premier League and she hoped the relationship did not deteriorate further.
“One hopes the current stalemate doesn’t affect the prospects of Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur representing their franchises in the WBBL, or ruling their India teammates out of contention for a contract when the signing window opens for the upcoming edition,” she said.