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CA, ACA and states talk schedule options

Australian cricket’s power brokers will reassemble later this month as they try to reach agreement on what this summer’s schedule should and could look like.

The Australian Cricket Council (ACC), a group formed in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal as per a recommendation from an independent review into Cricket Australia (CA), met for several hours on Thursday.

It was the first time CA chairman Earl Eddings, Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) boss Greg Dyer and their counterparts from every state and territory association had come together under the auspices of the ACC since October.

The discussion centred largely on the 2020-21 schedule, which remains in a state of flux because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An Australia squad will travel to England later this month for a limited-overs tour; confirmation of that trip could come as early as Friday.

But players’ movements beyond the UK journey – the first overseas by an Australian national team since the health crisis started – remain unclear.

Eddings and his fellow chairpersons agreed to meet in coming weeks, having spoken about India’s lucrative four-Test tour and domestic cricket.

CA has announced BBL, WBBL and international fixtures for the summer, yet change is widely considered inevitable.

State governments will ultimately dictate what is possible.

The domestic season had been slated to start in September but dates were never released for the men’s and women’s one-day competitions or the Sheffield Shield.

The question of funding domestic-cricket hubs, which even in the best-case scenario would still likely be required due to Victoria’s COVID-19 situation, is still being worked through.

Domestic cricket, with the notable exception of Twenty20, delivers no revenue and runs at a loss yet is a vital part of the sport’s high-performance structure.

It is part of the reason CA’s coronavirus challenge is arguably more complex than that of AFL and NRL.

There are fears that domestic competitions will be pared back, although CA chief executive Nick Hockley recently indicated “the absolute starting point is that we get as much of the schedule away as possible”.

Domestic players have indicated a willingness to enter biosecurity bubbles.

The WBBL is expected to feature hubs, with the only question being where they will be located.

CA has scheduled a mid-season block of WBBL games in Sydney, but the current level of COVID-19 community transmission in the NSW capital means Queensland or Tasmania could instead host the majority of the competition.

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