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Channel Seven continues to dance around the real reasons Michael Slater was dumped from its cricket coverage.
Everyone in the game – and within media circles – know it has nothing to do with a "budgetary decision", as has been widely reported.
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You don’t get rid of a key member of your broadcast team on the eve of an Ashes series because a beancounter tells you to trim costs.
TV types will tell you it's rarely the on-air talent that cop a financial haircut when the shears come out.
Channel Seven has been happy to let the story run that Slater's Twitter attack on Scott Morrison, where he accused the PM of "having blood on his hands" for blocking the return of Australians from Covid-hit India, was the reason for his contract not being renewed.
It came at the same time a rumour circulated he had clashed with Australian opener David Warner when both were holed up in the Maldives following the IPL's postponement.
Both Slater and Warner strenuously deny there was any sort of blow-up, but the story no doubt made Channel Seven's execs that little bit more jumpy.
Cost-cutting cited as reason being Michael Slater axing
Days after his axing, Slater told The Sunday Telegraph's Phil Rothfield: "I don't know if it's related to what I said about ScoMo but it got a lot of airplay at the time.
"The head of sport said it was budgetary decision. They've made a business decision.
"It's a bitter pill to swallow. I'll soldier on and keep pushing forward."
Asked if he believed Slater was let go because of cost cutting, Rothfield told Sky Sports Radio: "No I don't.
"I think he's paying the penalty for some wayward behaviour. He's been a commentator for 20 years and a very good commentator but I think he's paying the penalty for the remarks he made about ScoMo and other off-field behaviour."
Those who have worked with Slater told Yahoo Australia he likes to run the show and wasn't keen on taking directions.
They also said he could be very unpredictable and easily "fly off the handle", but put it down to the stress of working on live TV.
Others found him a complete professional and easy to work with and are stunned he hasn't been retained.
The very least Slater deserves is an honest explanation as to why he won't be there when the first ball of the Ashes series is bowled.
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