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Cricket Australia cuts staff, budget; sets for full season

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Cricket Australia will cut 40 staff and plans to slash costs by millions of dollars to off set the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but still expects to complete a full domestic season in 2020-21.

The number of redundancies announced Wednesday was fewer than initially expected when 200 staffers were furloughed after Australia closed its borders and went into lockdown in March. At the time, then chief executive Kevin Roberts predicted Cricket Australia could run out of money by August.

Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings said government stimulus measures and easing domestic COVID-19 restrictions have given the sport’s national administration a more positive financial outlook for next season, which should include a full Sheffield Shield schedule and full competitions for the men’s and women’s Twenty20 leagues.

Australia is hopeful of hosting a tour by India, including four test matches. Cricket Australia plans to reduce operating costs by 40 million Australian dollars ($28 million) by cutting administrative, travel and marketing costs, reducing pay and bonuses for management and shelving tours and competition for the second-string national teams and some junior national age group teams.

“Our responsibility is clear," Eddings said in a statement. “To navigate a path for cricket through this period of uncertainty and disruption to ensure we come out the other side sustainable in the short term and prosperous in the long term.”

Australia's cricket season was almost over when the national lockdown began, shuttering sports. Unlike the various football leagues in Australia, very few domestic cricket games are expected to be lost because of COVID-19 and the hit to revenue shouldn't be as deep.

Next season was supposed to include Australia hosting the men's Twenty20 World Cup in October and November, although that is now in doubt. New interim chief executive Nick Hockley said Cricket Australia was preparing for a season that would involve smaller crowds — if any — at games and higher costs for health measures associated with the pandemic.

“We are confident that our actions today ... are the right steps to ensure we can manage the continued uncertainty while doing all we can to deliver on the domestic and international program," he said.

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