On my way to work last week, I popped into our local coffee shop in Randwick, Sydney, and there was Steve Smith- Australia’s Cricket Captain; the man with the second most important job in the country, having a cuppa in his tracksuit pants and reading the paper. For fear of stalking, I didn’t sit too close, but we were reading the same paper; and there was no avoiding the article on cricket’s pay dispute. As he sat there calmly I felt like saying: “Mate – just fix it! Your country needs its cricket!!”
As the summer of cricket looms, the ongoing pay dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketer’s Association (ACA) are today reportedly close to avoiding Arbitration and resolving the impasse.
The dispute involves CA wishing to break away from an arrangement that has been in place for 20 years. Under that deal, players have been paid from gross revenue from matches. According to Fairfax Media, CA says it needs to change the model as the sport needs more than $200 million over the next five years to help develop the game, support local clubs and deal with threats from other sports. CA wants to break with the way cricketers have been compensated which involved players receiving a set share of CA's revenue.
Under CA’s new proposal, CA bosses would pay players an amount not linked to the revenue of the sport, which the ACA believes could be as much as $2.6 billion over the next five years. But that figure has been disputed by CA which points to a "soft" TV market that could cost it up to $200m in its next TV deal for international cricket and the Big Bash League. The players, however, favour the current model because it effectively gives them partner status rather than being mere workers for hire.
Over 200 players contracted to CA ran out of contract at the end of June and are now effectively out of work. So as it stands, the summer’s Ashes tour is at risk.
While it is improbable that the Ashes would get cancelled, it is quite possible that a splitting in the ranks could see a second-tier side being fielded, resulting in a white wash of the series back to England.
In 2013 I had the good fortune of travelling to the UK for a conference just after the English won the Ashes. I would be a very wealthy man if I had $10 for every time a ‘gloating local’ took the opportunity to ‘rub my nose in it’. Of course we Aussie’s would never sink to those lows; and are far more respectful of our sporting foes……… (I hear you choke).
England currently hold the Ashes, but at the time of my visit in 2013, England had won the last two series beforehand. Australia however has won the most matches since the biennial series started in 1882. Now with the series evenly poised at 32 each, I’m sure there’s many Aussies who couldn’t stand more horn blowing Brits, blowing their own!
And as a friend of many cricketing venues, I’m sure they’re not keen on a sub-standard Test Series. So - in the interest of our deep ceded Colonial rivalry – PLEASE SORT THIS OUT!!!!