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Eight PSL games in Pakistan next year across three venues

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Eight Pakistan Super League matches are set to be played in Pakistan next year, according to the PCB chairman Najam Sethi. It was also confirmed that UAE will continue to be the main venue for the league, where the rest of it be scheduled. The idea of having the entire tournament in Pakistan, ESPNcricinfo understands, is deemed logistically “not feasible” at this stage.

Pakistan had concerns as their home season in the UAE runs alongside various other leagues slotted in the UAE, which hurts the PCB’s commercial rights. As a result, a clash has been brewing between the PCB and Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), forcing the former to explore other venues. However, the PCB has reached a deal with the ECB and retained the UAE as the venue for their home season. The ECB will avoid overlapping other tournaments with Pakistan’s home series, and agreed to keep the PSL free of other cricket in the country. In addition, no cricket will be played in the country for at least six weeks before the PSL starts.

Pakistan are also due to host New Zealand and Australia later this year. The schedule for the series has been organised in a way it avoids clashing with the Afghanistan T20 league and Emirates T20 league in the season, both of which are scheduled to be held in the UAE. Both the PCB, as well as the six PSL franchise owners, met in Lahore on Tuesday to evaluate the potential threats to their league in UAE, with the Afghan T20, the T10 and Emirates T20 league the major reasons for concern. ESPNcricinfo understands that there is a reluctance to host the PSL in the UAE, but with alternatives in short supply, the PCB has come to a decision. The board has also decided to host eight games in Pakistan across three venues; Lahore and Karachi are confirmed as two of them, with a third yet to be decided on.

Pakistan doesn’t yet have the ability to host the entire PSL in Pakistan, what with the resources that extensive security arrangements will likely demand. It will also require enlisting the help of local governments, and all these factors, according to the PCB chairman, rule this out as an option.

“Eventually the whole PSL will come back to Pakistan one day, but at this stage it’s not feasible,” Sethi told ESPNcricinfo. “With every passing year, things are improving and, from the first to the third edition, we have continued to have more games in Pakistan. Next year eight or more games will come to Pakistan.”

Not all stadiums are fully ready to host PSL matches at present, with several needing extensive renovations. Size of the seating area is also an issue in certain stadiums, particularly Faisalabad and Rawalpindi. Multan is a potentially viable venue, but arrangements to stay overnight in the city aren’t quite up to the mark just yet. In a surprise move, the Muzaffarabad Stadium in Kashmir is being explored as a venue, in which case teams would likely have to be flown in and out via helicopter.

In separate proceedings, the PCB is at loggerheads with the franchises over the broadcast bid committee, with Multan Sultans understood to have been demanded representation for the franchises on the broadcast bid committee, which Sethi refused. The PCB is set to sell its broadcasting rights now that the original three-year cycle has come to an end, with the entire commercial and title sponsorship deal to be revised ahead of the fourth edition for a further period of three years.

According to the PCB, the franchises, being stakeholders, can only have a “consultative role” in commercial deals such as broadcasting and title sponsorship deals.

“The consensus in the PCB is that there could be conflict of interest if franchises were given representation on the broadcast bid committee in view of the other business interests franchises have. There are also issues of disclosure of information since most franchisees have media partnerships,” Sethi said. “It’s our prerogative to safeguard the interest of the PSL to get maximum revenues. Broadcasting deals and bidding processes are extremely confidential and sensitive matters.”

One out of six franchises is reportedly in dispute over payments with the PCB. It is understood the PCB was considering terminating the franchise over non-payment, but the Multan Sultans owner came to the rescue, convincing the PCB to allow them another 48 hours to make payment arrangements. The franchise owner, when approached, confirmed that USD 600,000 was owed, but claimed the PCB hadn’t shared revenue fairly, and he believed it was the PCB who owed the franchise money instead.

ESPNcricinfo’s investigations suggest all other franchises have cleared any outstanding financial obligations they had to the PCB.



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#Collapzilla – Club team loses seven wickets for 1 run in 11 balls

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One week, a team scores 481 runs in 50 overs. The next, another loses a match chasing 189 having been 186 for 3. Clearly, cricket doesn’t do middle ground.

Far removed from the pyrotechnics of Jason Roy and Alex Hales and Jos Buttler, there was a club game in the town of Peterborough in Northamptonshire and the local team was looking beat. After all, there were 11 balls left, only three runs to get and seven wickets in hand. That’s when it happened. #Collapzilla

The unravelling of High Wycombe began with fast bowler Keiron Jones picking up four wickets in four balls to start the penultimate over of the chase, and ending it as a maiden over. Imagine the odds. Experts suggest it is somewhere between finding an Oxford-educated unicorn and owning car keys that never get lost.

The final six balls were the responsibility of a 16-year old offspinner. According to the Peterborough Telegraph, Danyaal Malik was the sixth-choice bowler in an under-strength attack.

Nathan Hawkes took strike on 57. The first ball was reverse-swept for a single, but that was only the start of another collapse. The next four yielded three wickets and a remarkable victory. Peterborough won the entire tournament – the ECB National Club Championship – and emerged the best out of 13 teams.



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Tennis deal puts Australia Tests back in HD

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A looming broadcast conflict has been averted after the Seven and Nine networks agreed terms to allow the latter to air the 2019 Australian Open tennis – a year earlier than originally scheduled. This leaves Seven free to air Tests and Big Bash League matches in high definition on its main channel.

Cricket Australia’s AUD 1.18 billion television and digital rights deal with Fox Sports and Seven, announced in April, had meant that Seven held the rights for both cricket and tennis for the summer of 2018-19, with a contractual obligation to air the first Grand Slam of the year on the network’s primary channel.

However, after more than a month of negotiations, Seven has agreed to on-sell the final year of its tennis rights to Nine for AUD 48.5 million, meaning the Test matches against Sri Lanka and the BBL matches also scheduled to clash with the Australian Open will not have to compete for airtime with tennis on the same network. CA is understood to have been prepared to accept secondary billing in the first year of their six-year deal with Seven, which has unveiled Ricky Ponting, Damien Fleming and Michael Slater as commentators.

For the first time in the history of Australian cricket, two of three men’s formats – ODIs and Twenty20 internationals – will be hidden behind a paywall. Nine had effectively exited the contest for rights to cricket in Australia when it revealed a five-year, AUD 300 million deal with Tennis Australia to broadcast the Open and other lead-up tournaments.

Hugh Marks, the Nine chief executive, underlined the reasons for the network’s decision in confirming the deal to gain the tennis rights a year early. He had been seeking to reduce spending on sports rights, after the network parted with more than AUD 500 million for the rights to international cricket from 2013-18.

“There’s an air of excitement at Nine about being the new home of tennis, so to be able to start our new deal a year early brings us all much delight,” he said. “As I said back in March, the timing of tennis and the audience demographics it delivers are a perfect fit for Nine and its advertisers. We’re also mighty pleased to have been able to settle on a price for the additional year that is consistent with our original offer to Seven.”

CA on Monday announced it had secured another major sponsor in the form of the digital real estate seller Domain, which is majority-owned by Fairfax Media. The four-year deal makes for an intriguing mixture of partnerships given that Fox Sports, provider of the bulk of the broadcast rights money, is owned by Fairfax’s media rival News Corp.

The Domain deal, alongside that with Alinta Energy, will account for the prime presenting and advertising space at Australian cricket grounds over the summer. They were both signed in the wake of the financial firm Magellan’s withdrawal from a previous deal with CA as part of the fallout from the Newlands ball tampering scandal.

“Domain is delighted to begin a partnership with Cricket Australia. Our aligned audience strategies in mobile and content represent a unique opportunity for both brands,” Domain’s chief editorial and marketing officer Melina Cruickshank said. “We believe the ‘spirit of cricket’ is resilient and look forward to the growth opportunities this partnership will provide.”

A new executive is set to join CA in August, with the recruitment of Karina Keisler as executive general manager for public affairs, government relations and infrastructure. Keisler will replace Mark O’Neill, whose contract expired at the end of March. She had previously held roles with Telstra, Vodafone and most recently the NBN corporation, which has faced numerous battles over its rollout of the national broadband network.



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Ashton Agar says Australia must be ‘at our absolute best’ to avert whitewash

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Ashton Agar has said Australia have “no choice” other than to believe they can defeat England in the final ODI at Old Trafford. If England continue their domination of Australia it will be their first whitewash over the old enemy in any format.

But Agar insisted the Australia players weren’t feeling pressure to avoid the whitewash and instead were focusing on improving all facets of their game.

“It’s going to be tough,” Agar said. “But I absolutely believe we can beat them: we have no choice [but] to believe that we can beat them.

“But we need to play our very best cricket against a side that’s played really well four games in a row now. We have to bring our absolute best. We have plenty to gain out of tomorrow, plenty to gain, to just put things into practice and just let it all out there.”

Agar scored 40 and 46 in the first two ODIs and, while the bowling figures of some of his team-mates have suffered dreadfully at the hands of England’s brutal batting, Agar has been the pick of Australia’s attack during this series. He took 2 for 48 at Chester-le-Street and conceded 7 runs per over during England’s record innings of 481 at Trent Bridge. He believes that, while it has been a difficult series for AJ Tye and Jhye Richardson in particular, the experience could be positive in the long term.

“I guess Trent Bridge is one that would highlight that for some young bowlers, and we have a quite young bowling attack,” said Agar. “To feel what that’s like — JL [Justin Langer] referred to it as the ‘jungle’, that’s international cricket, playing against good players on good wickets and sometimes small grounds.

“That was pretty difficult. It’s good to experience that now and not in a World Cup, learn from that now and then know what to do when you face that situation again.”

“They definitely would have been hurt after Trent Bridge. Everyone was. That was pretty incredible, it was a world record and unfortunately we were on the receiving end of that. But we have to keep learning from those experiences and it’s good to experience that now and not in a World Cup. Learn now, improve now. We can move forward instantly.”

Langer, Australia’s coach, may decide to tinker with his line-up once more in an effort to find the best balance but, with England unlikely to change what is a red-hot top and middle order, Agar doesn’t expect any easing of pressure.

“England are a very good side, an experienced side and they gel really well,” Agar said. “They’ve got beautiful balance in their team and I think we are working towards that.

“Their confidence, their self-belief: they ooze it out there, no doubt. They are playing like a team where everyone knows their role and they back themselves and each other to just go and do it. They’ve set the benchmark.

“We are not where they are yet but I think tomorrow is just another opportunity to try to win and try and do really well. It’s the last game [of the series], you go 100% every game but I think it means more to us now to go as hard as we can and just leave nothing out there.”



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