The government was warned last night that there could be a mass exodus of players from international cricket if the Ashes are screened on BBC Television. This remarkable claim is contained in a dossier submitted by the England and Wales Cricket Board opposing proposals to move the series from Sky TV.
The ECB said the move would cost them £137.4 million in broadcast revenues over a four-year period and threaten funding to all areas of the game. In bleak terms, a statement from the governing body said: "The evidence demonstrates starkly that placing the home Ashes series on List A would bring about a devastating collapse in the entire fabric of cricket in England from the playground to Test arena."
It said the entire future of Test cricket was at stake because of a decision by the advisory panel on listed events that the Ashes after 2013 should be protected for free-to-air TV, effectively the BBC. In a report to the Dep-artment of Media, Culture and Sport, the ECB said Twenty20 could take over from Tests. "It is not inconceivable that the funding shortfalls would precipitate a mass exodus of players from the international game."