Cricket Australia is facing its most crucial 48 hours in recent history to combat plans of Indian investors trying to seize a share of our Twenty20 game in the biggest shake-up since Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket.
Reports reveal Australia's most powerful cricket states, New South Wales and Victoria, have already sold shares to giant Indian corporations for around $60 million in return for profits from an IPL-type eight-team tournament to start in Australia in January 2012.
CA board members will meet in Melbourne over the coming days to decide whether to accept private equity from Indian and other overseas investors as part of the ownership structure for each franchise, which could be worth $80 million each in a few seasons, four times their initial value of $20 million each.
Chief executive James Sutherland has described the setting up of the tournament as "the most significant development since World Series Cricket" and is fully aware state bodies have threatened to establish a breakaway competition if the overseas investors are turned away.
"It's a moment as big, if not bigger, than the Kerry Packer moment when his role resulted in one-day international cricket taking off and basically funding the development of Australian and world cricket for 25 or so years," CA spokesman Peter Young said.
NSW Cricket has reportedly set up a separate business entity, known as Blues Inc, to run the state's Twenty20 franchises.
It is understood the Indian investors want a 49 per cent share of the company and have all but signed off on a figure of $30 million.
"The Twenty20 franchises in Australia could eventually be worth $80 million each," said one cricket insider.
"It's a staggering amount of money considering an NRL club like Brisbane Broncos is valued at around $30 million. That's why the Indian corporations are so keen to get involved as an investment.
"One-day cricket is dying, the only Tests people care about are the Ashes and India, and everyone knows Twenty20 is the future of the game."