Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has called on the Tasmanian government to up the ante and increase funding to the state’s cricket body forced to compete with cashed-up AFL clubs that occupy UTAS Stadium and Bellerive Oval.
Sutherland also encouraged Cricket Tasmania to continue its push for more games in Northern Tasmania to show best value for money.
Cricket Tasmania boss Nick Cummins has backed expanding the Hobart Hurricanes’ additional Big Bash fixture now into Launceston.
“I think that’s an exciting initiative – well done to Nick for working that through and to all concerned parties,” Sutherland said.
But Launceston is still waiting to host Sheffield Shield cricket that hasn’t returned for more than two decades and domestic 50-over games since 2009.
The one-time Victorian Shield cricketer, who had been at the centre of players’ pay dispute that stalled for months and threatened the upcoming Ashes series, felt cricket in Tasmania was treated like poor cousins compared to the lofty heights of visiting Hawthorn and North Melbourne AFL sides.
“I can’t think of any Tasmanian team that has a higher profile representation than of those teams,” Sutherland said. “It’s something that all Tasmanians should be proud of and they should get as much support as possible from not just the local community but government.”
Cricket Tasmania receives a $560,000 grant each year from the state government that according to Cummins has been unchanged for a number of years.
But Hawthorn re-signed a five-year deal to run until the end of the 2021 AFL season worth $19 million for four games a year in Launceston.
The government brokered a deal under commercial-in-confidence with its ferry service provider TT-Line, rumoured to be worth $7.5 million over five years for three games annually, to commit North Melbourne to Hobart.
Sutherland said Cricket Tasmania now “absolutely” deserved a better deal.
“I think cricket is well and truly deserving of support here and certainly more support than what it gets when you think about the Tasmanian team,” he said.
A spokesperson on behalf of Premier Will Hodgman indicated the state government was willing to talk to bring more cricket to Tasmania.
“The Hodgman government is a strong supporter of cricket in Tasmania,” the spokesperson said.
“We look forward to now receiving a business case from Cricket Tasmania and to discussing how we can help grow the national game in Tasmania.”