Warne leads Aussie contingent to India

Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Shane Warne and three Australian teammates fly to India for a cricket tour which remains in doubt due to a legal battle over television rights. Warne, Cameron White, Justin Langer and Nathan Hauritz will be joined in India next week by the players who are part of the one-day team contesting the ICC Champions Trophy in England.

But the tour depends on the outcome of a case which was due to resume in the High Court in Bombay. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is hoping the High Court will quickly dispose off the TV rights legal battle between two rival networks so the high-profile Test series can be telecast live.

ESPN-Star Sports, jointly owned by Disney and Rupert Murdoch, went to court after the BCCI allotted the rights for all international cricket in India for the next four years to Zee Network for 308 million US dollars.

ESPN-Star contended that Zee, India's largest listed media company, did not fulfil a requirement to have two years' experience of telecasting international cricket matches. Unless the case is resolved, the tour cannot go ahead.

"We're not expecting any further advice until the court case is over. We're in their hands," Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said Tuesday. "We're continuing to plan to go there after the Champions Trophy, and will continue to do so unless we're advised the TV coverage can't go ahead."

He said Cricket Australia chairman Bob Merriman wrote to the BCCI last week outlining Australia's concerns. "He pointed out in that letter the formal consequences for us should the TV coverage not be possible," Young said.

The letter, which has been tabled as part of the court case, explained the sponsorship difficulties which would flow from the cancellation or non-televising of the series. Australia are due to play one warm-up game and four Tests, with the first beginning in Bangalore on October 6.

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