The current pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) is, in essence, a good old-fashioned industrial dispute – CA as the mean employer, the ACA as the trade union on behalf of the elite downtrodden.
As things stand, it would seem arbitration has little hope of success. The players are holding firm and CA is not yielding.
But the big question is whether all players will continue to do so?
The climate at the moment is one of ‘collective bargaining’, but CA will surely go down the ‘individual bargaining’ route when it comes to the crunch. That’s what employers do when challenged.
If tweets are a guide, it looks like the players will hold firm, but not every player tweets and not every player is at the top of the hierarchy. Nor does every player have the luxury of filling their wallets from the multitude of T20 options available, stints in county cricket, and the benefits of promotional deals.
CA will play on this and hope those at the lower end come to the party.
A cunning CA plan to create a schism between players and the creation of a new era of rebel cricketers.
And it is not hard to see it happening.
Most of the tweeters are remaining strong but it is interesting that Steven Smith has only gone to the lengths of simply re-tweeting an ACA tweet. Hardly leading from the front if this is to be won or lost on Twitter.
Perhaps this is where the schism may develop from?
Does Smith really want to run the risk of losing his Test career and captaincy when he is in his pomp? I suspect not. Does Smith really need to worry about future generations and a revenue-percentage-based wage system when he can take the money and run now?
Perhaps unfair on Smith, perhaps not his thinking at all. But he has the second-most important job in Australia and why would anyone want to lose it?
Then there are also others at the lower end of the hierarchy that have decisions to make.
Matthew Renshaw and Peter Handscomb are both new to Test cricket with a Cricket Australia contract awaiting so they can build on their promising careers. It must be tempting.
Glen Maxwell is pencilled in at number six for the Ashes and if he doesn’t sign he’s likely to never see Test cricket again.
Will Matthew Wade get the offer of a contract? If he does, surely he takes it.
Pat Cummins is back in the Test team with a dream of an Ashes series ahead. Ditto for his young fast bowling comrades.
But are they comrades? Is this a group of young men that can really stand strong together?
For the future generations and for themselves they should. But will they?
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Is there enough fire in their bellies to run the risk of losing their international careers, knowing there are enough talented cricketers in the Sheffield Shield that could fill their void?
Cricket Australia clearly don’t think so.
The player mantra should be ‘can’t pay, won’t play’, but for young men with the dream of featuring in an Ashes series, it may just be too much.