Jacques, Hussey hit tons; media dispute settled

Hobart, November 16:

Mike Hussey and Phil Jacques posted back-to-back hundreds and Muttiah Muralitharan closed in a bowling world record in the second Test between Australia and Sri Lanka.

Their performances came as an extended media rights dispute between Cricket Australia and the three major international news agencies, including The Associated Press, was settled just before stumps on the first day. “The News Media Coalition (NMC) has reached an agreement in its talks with Cricket Australia (CA) regarding news coverage during the current season,” the agencies said in a statement.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, Australia reached 329 for three at the end of the first day at Bellerive Oval. Hussey, who also scored a century in Australia’s innings and 40-run win in the first Test at Brisbane, was unbeaten on 101 and Michael Clarke was batting on 8.

Jacques was out for 150 and Sri Lankan spinner Muralitharan, who started the Bellerive match needing seven wickets to surpass Shane Warne’s record 708 Test wickets, returned 1-62 from 25 overs.

The AP, Reuters and Agence France-Presse were locked out of the first Test last week after refusing conditions of accreditation that limited the distribution of news and images from Cricket Australia venues and a demand for a license fee.

The move caused a backlash from newspapers, particularly in Sri Lanka and India, because of a lack of images and reports of the cricket usually provided by major news agencies. Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times newspaper printed a silhouette of a batsmen with a brief update of the cricket last weekend, reporting that the “dark image” filled the void earmarked for a photo.

Although Cricket Australia got some support from Indian authorities who indicated they would consider similar conditions for accreditation in future series.

After overnight negotiations extended into play Friday, the coalition and CA reached a provisional agreement that is valid until December 11. Australia play New Zealand in three limited-overs internationals on December 14, December 16 and December 20 and a four-Test series against India starts December 26 in Melbourne.

“There’s still more talking to do,” Cricket Australia public affairs manager Peter Young said.

“But for the time being, we’ve all got an outcome we’re comfortable we can live with.” A boycott by a global media coalition of the rugby World Cup was only avoided after an International Rugby Board backdown just an hour before the tournament kicked off in September.

“It’s not a cricket issue. It’s a sport and media issue and it’s not the last of these robust discussions you’ll see,” Young said. “It’s a sign of the evolving times.”