Virus roadmap in play, CA maps out summer

Rob Forsaith
Key bowler Megan Schutt is playing a waiting game as COVID-19 disrupts Cricket Australia's plans

Cricket Australia is developing its summer schedule with increasing confidence that India's lucrative visit will become a banker, but faces a tough challenge attempting to lock things in given the COVID-19 pandemic remains a source of so much uncertainty.

At this point of the year, CA would generally have released dates for the coming international season.

The governing body even announced its 2018-19 schedule in April, seeking to maximise ticket sales for the most recent visit of Virat Kohli's team.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has flagged with CA a willingness to tour and accept strict biosecurity measures, while federal sports minister Richard Colbeck offered public support this week regarding that Test series and even the Twenty20 World Cup.

But as Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined Australia's roadmap out of the health crisis on Friday, flagging a goal of reopening most of the economy by July, there remained plenty of questions about what the summer of cricket will look like.

CA chief executive Kevin Roberts, who is playing a leading role in negotiations with the BCCI regarding a series worth some $300 million in broadcast revenue, has made a point not to make any rash schedule calls amid global fears of a second wave of COVID-19.

A final decision on the men's T20 World Cup, set to be hosted by Australia in October-November, may not come until August.

That International Cricket Council verdict will have a knock-on effect for CA, potentially leaving a hole in the calendar that could be filled with trans-Tasman games.

The women's schedule is likewise unclear.

Meg Lanning's team were slated to start their one-day World Cup campaign next February in New Zealand, but there is speculation that event could be delayed if the men's T20 World Cup is shifted to the same slot.

"Cricket around the globe is going to be affected by this and I have no doubt women's cricket is also going to suffer," fast bowler Megan Schutt told reporters.

"Whatever sort of season they can muster together, they've got to be happy enough with.

"There's no golden number for things like that (number of ODIs her team need to play to get ready for a World Cup).

"We'll obviously do sessions out in the middle to replicate games if we can't get that ... I'm confident we're going to be able to adapt to whatever."

South Australia's skipper noted it "really sucks" to see the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) let go of some of her friends, but expressed confidence that CA and the players' union would come to agreement before "play resumes".

Schutt, who will soon return to pre-season training in Adelaide after her annual leave period, is unsure when Australia's next game will be.

The comeback date for Justin Langer's side is also uncertain, but the prospect of a limited-overs tour of England in September is still in play.