Afro-Asia: Nimbus backs out; ESPN-Star bags TV deal

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Asian Cricket Council (ACC) roped in ESPN-Star to telecast the forthcoming Afro-Asia Cup after Nimbus Sports, which owned the rights for the tournament, pulled out of the deal, ACC officials confirmed.

"The circumstances were such that the tournament could not be cancelled, considering the fact that the ICC had designated the ties as official one-dayers, and we're happy that ESPN-Star have agreed to telecast the event," ACC, CEO, Syed Ashraful Haq said.

However ESPN-Star reportedly okeyed the deal for the sum lower than the original one.

Nimbus Sports, which bought the rights for three editions of the tournament, first played in 2005 in South Africa, for US$12 million, cited the absence of several big stars in the Asian XI as the reason for pulling the plug.

Among the names missing are Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Muttiah Muralithran, Chaminda Vaas, Kumar Sangakkara, Shoaib Akhtar and Lasith Malinga.

Mumbai-based Nimbus Sports, which held the marketing and TV rights for the event, withdrew late Wednesday, saying the absence of top stars was making it difficult to find sponsors.

"We will not be part of the event in any way," said Nimbus chief Harish Thawani. "We will not be telecasting the event. Neither will we be producing nor bringing sponsorship for the matches.

"It is not viable because there is very little public interest in the absence of big names."

The series features three one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match between Asia and Africa to be played in Bangalore and Chennai from June 5-10.

The first edition was held in Johannesburg in August, 2005, but it was not played last year due to a lack of suitable dates in a crowded international cricket calendar.

India-SA ODIs in jeopardy: Earlier Zee network withdrew from televising a three-match series between India and South Africa in Ireland in June-July.

The matches were part of the Indian cricket board's plan to play 25 one-day internationals at off-shore venues over a five-year period, for which Zee had bought the rights for US$219 million.

The first event was held in September last year when India took on world champions Australia and the West Indies in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Zee said it had scrapped the entire five-year deal because the Indian board was not willing to negotiate a revised price after a government directive to share the TV feed for all India matches with state-run broadcaster Doordarshan.

The Indian board may be forced to cancel the series against South Africa -- scheduled for June 26, 29 and July 1 in Belfast -- if it fails to find an alternative broadcaster.

"The series cannot be held if there is no television coverage," said Indian cricket board secretary Niranjan Shah.

ThatsCricket (with inputs from agencies)

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