The Indian and Australian boards are planning a one-day series to be played in North America. New York or Toronto are the likely venues.
News.com reported that Cricket Australia operations manager Michael Brown confirmed last night that Australia had been approached by India for the series, though the details remained to be worked out. "You never say never but details at this stage are sketchy," Brown said.
Two possible stumbling blocks in the negotiations could be Australia's tour programme and wrangling over the percentage of revenues to be shared between the rival boards, with Australia reportedly demanding an equal share and the Indians demurring.
Where scheduling is concerned, between the World Cup in the Caribbean and the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa late in the year, Australia plan to visit Zimbabwe. "And there is also the issue of player leave," Brown said. "So there are a few things to consider. India wanted to hold a tournament similar to the one we had in Kuala Lumpur."
A bilateral contest between India and the world's number one team is aimed at capitalising on India's lucrative pay television market, with each of the planned seven games expected to generate up to $6 million. A triangular contest would mean lesser returns for each participant, apart from relative lack of viewer interest when India fails to make it to the finals as happened in the DLF Cup in Malaysia in October 2006. The BCCI reportedly sold the offshore television rights for each game in the series that featured India for $US5.8m but had to offload the Australia-West Indies matches for only $US1.2m.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Indians are believed to hold the upper hand in the negotiations, for any of the other major nations - West Indies, South Africa, England or Pakistan - would jump at the chance to make millions were Australia to refuse to play. Yet, the paper also cited insiders as claiming that the Indian board was desperate to get the Australians on board if they hoped to raise $ 42 million from the series.
It's believed an indoor NFL stadium in New York would host the games, meaning the matches would be played on a synthetic pitch. But Brown had his own doubts. "I'm not even sure whether they would have a suitable ground in New York," he said.