A series of one-day matches in Zimbabwe against "the hosts and South Africa marks the start of the busiest season ever for Australian cricket, in all its various forms, genders and levels," according to Ron Reed of the HERALD SUN. Cricketer Michael Clarke and Australian coach Darren Lehmann and company "assembled in Brisbane over the weekend for a training camp and for some of them, there will be minimum breathing space until the final of the one-day World Cup" at the MCG on March 29. This "many-faceted fixture is so complicated Cricket Australia's strategy experts worked through 72 drafts before they could accommodate every match without unworkable clashes." It adds up to 332 days of cricket -- 84 int'l and 248 domestic -- at "no fewer than 15 Australian venues." Cricket Australia is "pulling out all stops to make sure this translates to a big win for the game." CA last week published research that suggests "participation numbers in clubs, schools and women's and kids' cricket are booming," which follows earlier reports that last season saw "record TV ratings and new benchmarks in digital and radio coverage and attendance." CA CEO James Sutherland said, "This year promises to be even bigger." All this "is in line with the oft-stated ambition to make cricket Australia's favourite sport" (HERALD SUN, 8/17).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Racing New South Wales and Racing Victoria officials will continue discussions about the "clashes of the Australian Guineas and Randwick Guineas and Ranvet Stakes and Australian Cup next March because of the move of the Sydney carnival to a week earlier," according to Chris Roots of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The Australian Pattern Committee will meet on Friday with the "move of The Championships to April 4 and 11 and the Golden Slipper meeting to March 21 the major alterations to the autumn program." Racing Queensland will propose the move of the BTC Cup and Doomben Cup to "one meeting on April 25 to fit with Sydney changes and give horses another chance at group 1 racing." The "sticking point for the changes is the clash of the Flemington autumn meetings and the Randwick Guineas and Ranvet Stakes" (SMH, 8/17).
India's Supreme Court said that N. Srinivasan cannot head the Board of Control for Cricket in India until "he comes out clean in a probe conducted against him and 12 others," including India-capped cricketers, whose names have been mentioned by Justice Mudgal Committee's report in the Indian Premier League betting and spot-fixing scandal, according to the PTI. The court said that it cannot "close its eyes" to the allegations made by its probe committee in the scandal and a probe "must be conducted to clear the air as some prominent players were named in the report submitted in sealed envelop." A bench of justices A. K. Patnaik and F. M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, however, expressed reservations over a Special Investigations Team or Central Bureau of Investigation probe, saying that institutional autonomy of the Board "has to be maintained and a committee constituted by the BCCI to look into the issue would be preferred" (PTI, 8/16).
The National Rugby League’s competition committee "is expected to finetune its 40-20 rule yet again." The competition committee "will meet on Thursday to discuss the rule, which was tweaked this season" -- teams are allowed a quick restart after a 40-20 kick rather than pack a scrum -- to determine whether another change is needed (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/18). ... Australian Basketball Association side Canberra Gunners coach Shawn McEachin "is in talks with the Wollongong Hawks and Sydney Kings to become a feeder club" for the National Basketball League clubs for next year's South East Australian Basketball League. McEachin: ''Having come from Wollongong, I've got the links with the Hawks and [have] also been speaking with Damian Cotter, the coach of the Sydney Kings, given that we're the only SEABL program close to those two NBL teams. They've obviously got some development players they'd like to see playing some good basketball in the off-season, so there's the potential to get some of those players to have a run with us" (CANBERRA TIMES, 8/17). ... NRL side Manly coach Geoff Toovey "has again called for the NRL to review the structure of its finals series, urging the game’s administrators to provide greater reward to the winner of the minor premiership" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/18).