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Cricket poised to end 80 years of tradition

Wide World of Sports logo Wide World of Sports 14/06/2018 Brett Graham
Australia's Pat Cummins batting on Day 4 of the Fifth Test match between Australia and England. © AAP Image/Dean Lewins Australia's Pat Cummins batting on Day 4 of the Fifth Test match between Australia and England.

Cricket Australia is believed to be considering ending more than 80 years of tradition by excluding the ABC from the next round of radio rights.

Wide World of Sports has learned one or both of the commercial networks Crocmedia and Macquarie Media are favourites to secure the rights to broadcast international matches over the period of the next deal, believed to be five years.

ABC, which has covered cricket since starting broadcasts of the 1934 Ashes series from England, would be left without the rights to broadcast games played in Australia.

Final bids for rights were lodged with CA in mid-May, with a decision initially expected by the end of May.

It's believed the delay in announcing a deal is due to CA seeking assurances from Macquarie Media and Crocmedia that they can provide coverage to regional areas of Australia currently serviced by the ABC.

The ABC’s extensive regional network is thought to be the only factor keeping the public broadcaster in the frame to continue covering the game.

Sources close to the bidding process have confirmed to Wide World of Sports the plans to exclude the ABC are "more than a rumour" and “well advanced”.

ABC Radio Head of Sport Nick Morris has confirmed the organisation remains keen to continue broadcasting the game.

“We’re still in negotiations with Cricket Australia in regards to the rights,” he told Wide World of Sports.

The move to potentially end the ABC’s coverage comes just two months after CA signed a billion-dollar TV deal, ending an association with Nine dating back four decades.

ABC has a long history of covering cricket in Australia, with iconic voices such as Alan McGilvray and Jim Maxwell becoming household names.

Macquarie Media has broadcast cricket for the last five summers, with respected commentator Tim Lane leading the coverage, along with experts including former Australian captain Ian Chappell and Mike Hussey.

Crocmedia is the largest shareholder in Melbourne sports station SEN. Former ABC commentator Gerard Whateley has been SEN's leading caller since January and would be expected to head up the coverage, along with another ex-ABC expert in Simon Katich.

A CA spokesman told Wide World of Sports the governing body is still working through the rights process.

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