George Dobell in St Lucia
Cricket West Indies look set to take a substantial financial hit after Sky declined to pay for the two T20I games in St Kitts this weekend.
The value of such games would usually be worth around US$1million each but, with neither match having been part of the package agreed when the broadcast deal was made several years ago, Sky are reluctant to pay anywhere near that amount. They argue they have already paid handsomely for the rest of the tour, which was originally scheduled to contain just one T20I, and have no intention of spending any more on it.
The matches will still be broadcast in the UK. While CWI could refuse to allow Sky access to their pictures – the board are providing the cameras, the crew and the feed – they are not prepared to compromise their relationships with either their sponsors or the St Kitts government, who have invested in hosting the games. That means Sky could end up broadcasting the games for next to no cost.
If that does happen, however, it is unlikely they will be exclusive. CWI would, in such circumstances, be able to live-broadcast the matches on YouTube, Twitter and through their own website. A compromise – where Sky pay somewhere between 10-20 percent of the anticipated value of the games – would seem likely.
It still represents a painful blow for CWI. They are obliged to pay for the travel and hotel accommodation for both squads, as well as the match fees and other hosting costs. With the matches broadcast at close to peak time for Sky – they start at 8pm in the UK – they are aggrieved at the lack of value they are receiving. For a board with a turnover of around $40million, to lose up to $2million anticipated revenue is significant.
Meanwhile the announcement of West Indies’ T20I squad for this series – which was revealed by ESPNcricinfo almost a week ago – was delayed after some board members resisted the decision to retain the ODI squad under Jason Holder as captain. While the logic of keeping the side together in the build-up to the World Cup was appreciated, there was a concern that preparation for the next T20 World Cup – which is to be held in Australia towards the end of next year – might have been compromised as a consequence.
There was also some concern that Holder might require more rest ahead of his commitments this summer. In addition to West Indies’ trip to Ireland in the build-up to the World Cup, he has also committed to a stint with Northamptonshire in county cricket.
Equally, however, the delay in naming the squad might be reflective of the level of interference that selectors, coaches and officials in the Caribbean have from CWI board members.
It also emerged that Andre Russell could miss the entire series with a recurrence of his long-standing knee problem. “He had some reaction to some treatment he had,” Richard Pybus, the team’s interim head coach explained. It is understood that reaction came after Russell was given an injection into the knee and had been suffering unexpected swelling as a result.
With opportunities running out for Russell to show his fitness and form, the setback could raise serious doubts over his likelihood of being in West Indies’ World Cup squad.
Photo:Chris Gayle launches one down the ground Associated Press