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PCB takes coronavirus hit, but finances ‘absolutely fine’ for next 12-14 months

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The PCB is set to incur an estimated loss of PKR 200 million (USD 1.2 million approx) in term of gate revenues alone following the postponement of the PSL’s semi-finals and final, and a loss of a further USD 3 to 4 million from not staging the remainder of Pakistan’s home series against Bangladesh in April. Despite these blows, the PCB’s financial health is still sustainable for the next 12 to 14 months, according to its CEO Wasim Khan.

Since March 16, all professional cricket in Pakistan has come to a halt in the light of growing concerns around the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic that is sweeping the globe. After the PSL, Pakistan was set for another month of home domestic and international cricket, with the Pakistan One-Day Cup and the final leg of Bangladesh’s tour of Pakistan. Amid all this, Pakistan’s five-year broadcasting deal and the kit sponsorship were about to end with the PCB preparing to seek out new deals; this means the board will not lose anything financially from their existing commercial deals.

Pakistan only had away tours to play in the five months after the scheduled end of their home season, with their next domestic season due to start in October, and their next home international series set for December. This has given the PCB a bit of breathing room. The board has shut down cricketing operations at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore, asking players and coaches to remain at home with all upcoming courses suspended infinitely. The board’s offices are shut as well, with employees working from home.

How long this shutdown will continue is uncertain, but the PCB is hopeful that it will have sufficient funds to survive by the start of its next round of home fixtures.

“For now our financial grounds are fine, and obviously we just had a PSL, and the loses we incurred were from gate receipts and sponsorships,” Wasim said. “I was roughly calculating that it could be around the 200-million-rupee mark in terms of gate receipts that we actually lost on our revenue. This is something we will have definite numbers for in the next couple of weeks, and we will provide the details of where we made the greatest losses.

“So we are in a fortunate position in the fact that the only immediate loss we have is the the Bangladesh series. We lost three to four million dollars because we are not playing the Test and and ODI. Apart from that we have two things: one, our shirt sponsorship is up for taking, so we are not losing money on that, and we are looking for a new sponsor, and secondly, our broadcasting rights are ending and the Bangladesh series was the last of the Ten Sports deal that we currently had.

“We are moving on to negotiate and looking for new deals and we are very fortunate in the fact that we don’t have home cricket and international’s cricket until we move on to the Asia Cup and Zimbabwe in October. Our finances are okay but like any other country if this continues for another 12 or 14 months, then we will start to see a real challenge in our finances. So for time being we are absolutely fine.”

The next domestic season faces significant changes, with the PCB working to decentralise its domestic stakeholders, forming six independent provincial and city associations. It had already implemented the new structure last year with six teams playing every format in the country, abolishing the old structure with departments playing first-class cricket. The PCB is exploring a plan to squeeze in another tournament, allowing departments to return to the fold.

Administratively, the PCB over coming months is likely to implement a constitution for the provincial boards to form their management committee, which will have its own departments – accounts, finance, marketing, HR, audit, selection, coaching staff. The entire model will be detached from the PCB to work independently with the PCB not retaining any direct role in the decision-making of each regional team. Before this, the PCB had been directly involved in funding and running cricket operations in each region, and last season alone had spent over PKR 1 billion (USD 6.3 million approx) in doing so.



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Sri Lanka’s 13-man squad to begin training on Monday

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Sri Lanka Cricket will go ahead with plans for a 13-man squad of players to begin training on Monday, despite a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 infections in the country over the past few weeks.

The players will essentially put themselves and four support staff in a bubble, over the course of the 12-day “residential training camp” at the Colombo Cricket Club. The squad, which largely comprises of bowlers, will stay at a nearby hotel, and “will not be allowed to leave the hotel premises or the practice venue to attend personal matters” according to an SLC release.

Although 531 new Covid-19 patients had been identified in Sri Lanka since May 24, those new cases are believed to be almost entirely from quarantine centres from around the country, with recent returnees from the Middle East comprising the majority of patients. In general, the Sri Lanka government has indicated that the spread of the virus is under control, and has so far avoided reimposing the strict, extended curfews seen through April and the early part of May.

The government is also understood to be supporting this resumption of training.

“Health officials already visited the hotel and the practice venue, and provided health guidelines to the staff members of the respective venues to follow,” the board release said.

Among those who will start training are quicks Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara, as well as spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Lasith Embuldeniya. Kusal Perera and Danushka Gunathilaka have also been included in this squad. Head coach Mickey Arthur and batting coach Grant Flower – both of whom have been in Sri Lanka through the duration of the viral outbreak – are among the support staff.

SLC had hoped international cricket could begin on the island in late June or early July, but India – the team that is due to visit next – has not confirmed the tour.



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Virat Kohli: MS Dhoni played a big role in my becoming captain

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Virat Kohli has credited MS Dhoni with playing a significant role in anointing him as his successor as India captain.

Kohli took over as the full-time Test captain when Dhoni retired from the format midway through India’s tour of Australia in 2014-15, and later became captain across formats when Dhoni quit his limited-overs post in early 2017.

Kohli said the process was a gradual one of “earning trust” over several years.

“I was always inclined towards taking responsibility,” Kohli said of his early days in the India dressing room, during an Instagram chat with team-mate R Ashwin. “After that it was all about just wanting to play, wanting to be in the XI regularly. I didn’t play all the games, but I wanted to be discussed, that ‘whether this guy is good enough to play or not.’ That is a transition that slowly happens.

“Then with your interest in the game you start talking to the captain regularly. I was always in MS’s ear, standing next to him, saying, ‘We can do this, we can do that.’ He would deny a lot of things but he would discuss a lot of things as well. I think he got a lot of confidence that I can do this after him.

“A large portion of me becoming captain was also to do with him observing me for a long period of time. It can’t just happen that he goes and the selectors say, ‘Okay you become captain.’ Obviously the guy who is there takes responsibility and says, ‘Okay I think this is the next guy. I will tell you how it is going.’ And then slowly that transition is formed. He played a big role in that, and that trust you have to build over six-seven years. It doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process.”

Kohli was first appointed vice-captain for the 2012 Asia Cup, which followed India’s tour of Australia for a Test series and a tri-series in 2011-12. In a tour that otherwise went poorly for India, who were blanked 4-0 in the Tests and failed to reach the tri-series final, Kohli emerged with distinction. He scored his maiden Test century in the fourth match at Adelaide, becoming the only India batsman to reach three figures in that series. In the ODIs, he made his then highest score in the format , smashing 133* off just 86 balls as India chased down a target of 321 in 36.4 overs to keep their hopes of making the final alive.

Kohli said that tour helped him become aware of his game and hone it significantly. “I remember that whole season,” he said. “It was from that Test hundred in Adelaide to continuously stringing scores. That was a phase of six to eight months where I really realised a lot about my own game and came into my own as far as my skills were concerned.

“I was very competitive but I wasn’t very sure or in control of what I wanted to do before. When you come in new, you’re still figuring out how to go about it. At the international stage you want to be feared, you want to be respected. You don’t want to walk in and hear, ‘He’s one of the youngsters, we’ll just knock him over.’ We all play for that. That was a phase where I started to realise this.”

In the Asia Cup that followed, Kohli made 183 in another tall chase, against Pakistan. He revealed that during this knock, he had negated the threat posed by Saeed Ajmal by treating the offspinner as if he were a legspinner.

“I told myself I’m going to start playing him like a legspinner,” Kohli said. “Because his doosra was quite difficult to face and his offspinner was not that lethal. So I said I’m going to try and hit him over cover consistently, and it just paid off. As soon as I negated his doosra, the potency of his threat became lesser and lesser.

“In that game I scored most of my runs against him through the off side [29 off 10 balls on the off side and 7 off 7 on the leg side]. My only aim was I’m going to make him unsettled with his doosra. He should fear bowling the doosrato me, then I’m on top of my game.”



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Rohit Sharma nominated for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award

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The BCCI has nominated Rohit Sharma for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, India’s highest sporting honour. The board has also nominated India fast bowler Ishant Sharma, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and India woman allrounder Deepti Sharma for the Arjuna award.

Rohit’s Khel Ratna nomination comes on the back of an outstanding 2019 with the bat: 556 runs at an average of 92.66 in five Test matches, all while opening the batting for the first time; and 1657 ODI runs at 57.30, including the unprecedented feat of five centuries at a single World Cup.

If Rohit wins the award, he will become only the fourth cricketer, after Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, to do so.

“We went through a lot of data and considered various parameters before shortlisting the nominees,” Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, said via a media release. “Rohit Sharma has set new benchmarks as a batsman and achieved scores people thought were not possible in the shorter formats of the game. We feel he is worthy of getting the prestigious Khel Ratna award for his commitment, conduct, consistency and his leadership skills.

“Ishant Sharma is the most senior member of the Test squad and his contribution has been vital in Indian team’s long run as the No. 1 Test side. Fast bowlers are prone to injuries and Ishant has had a fair share of them but he has fought hard to be back on the park every time. Shikhar has been consistently scoring at the top and his performances in the ICC events have been significant. Deepti is a genuine allrounder and her contribution to the team has been vital.”



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