Roberts has been in the CEO’s chair for only six months – and Eddings has been full-time chairman for just five months – but they now find themselves having to try and patch up Australia’s most important relationship to avoid it turning more ugly. Roberts had tentatively planned to travel to India next month and it now seems likely that trip will go ahead with Eddings in tow. Far from spoiling for a fight, the power imbalance with India means they might as well be turning up with their tails between their legs.
CA denies it was using the subject of Perry, Lanning and Healy’s involvement in the Indian series as leverage as the BCCI pushed to have the Australian men’s team travel there for three ODIs next January and abandon its usual schedule of limited-overs matches at home, which next summer were to be played against New Zealand.
But Indian officials were unhappy with CA’s statement that it had confirmed the release of the trio for the tournament – understood to have been done verbally by Roberts to his BCCI counterpart, Rahul Johri – last Thursday, the day the 39 players for the event was announced.
A leaked email from Clark, sent to a BCCI official on April 5 in response to a request that Perry, Lanning and Healy be released, was subsequently published by ESPNCricinfo in India on the weekend.
“Thanks so much for the note and detailed background regarding the planned progression of the women’s IPL,” Clark wrote in the email. “We will be in a position to consider the request when the current issue re [regarding] the men’s ODI series that was agreed in the FTP for late January 2020 is resolved by Rahul and Kevin. I understand that this is being worked through at present.”
CA’s position is that two further emails had been sent to the BCCI this month requesting assistance with processing the trio’s visas, indicating its preparedness to permit them to play and that it was not aware of a deadline to provide written confirmation.
Contacted by the Herald on Sunday, IPL chief operating officer Hemang Amin said the issue was “between Cricket Australia and the BCCI”. “I’d prefer not to comment. I’ll leave that to Cricket Australia,” he said.
A spokeswoman for CA declined to comment when asked about the leaked email.
While the two governing bodies clearly differ in their views of what has transpired in the past few weeks, the feud is a setback for Roberts, whose first genuine diplomatic assignment with India has ended in conflict.
He was heavily criticised by the Australian Cricketers’ Association for the role he played in the pay war with players in 2017 – when then CEO James Sutherland stepped in to replace him as chief negotiator at the 11th hour – and there are many eyes on how he can manage affairs on the world stage.
Chris Barrett is Sports Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.