Everyone just calm down, the Ashes aren’t under threat

Alec Swann Columnist

By Alec Swann, Alec Swann is a Roar Expert


13 Have your say

    When November 23 comes around, a full-strength Australia will face a full-strength England in the Ashes opener at the Gabba.

    The latter is a given, or at least it should be unless injuries get in the way, but the former, if reports are to be believed, may not be quite as straightforward.

    Money, the distribution of it, the amount of it, the spending of it, is the cause (isn’t it always?) and the sport’s golden egg is now in the firing line.

    But it isn’t, not really.

    Without getting into the detail, as others have done far more succinctly than I could manage, the Ashes will go ahead as planned and that’s all there is to it.

    Despite the ongoing salary spat, there is both a need and desire as Cricket Australia can’t afford for it not to and the players won’t want it not to.

    Such brinkmanship is the inevitable direction such a dispute takes – aim for the highest common denominator for maximum impact – and neither side appears in a favourable light but this is bravado and nothing more.

    It is rather depressing to see dirty laundry washed so publicly but no real surprise in an age where there are no secrets and a revelation escalates in double-quick time to full-blown crisis.

    When you get to the point of a chief executive threatening to not pay anybody – ‘tidy your room or you can’t watch TV’ – things have gone a bit too far.

    Quite why the two parties can’t sit down in a room and come to a suitable arrangement is probably unfathomable to many but stubbornness is stubbornness however you choose to dress it up and egos generally don’t like a climbdown.

    Yet there will be a retreat in one shape or another because, for no other reason, there has to be.

    Australia's Josh Hazlewood (C) celebrates bowling out Englands Joe Root


    Don’t expect anything similar to the Major League Baseball-style lockdown that took place in the mid 1990s as the sport isn’t quite as militant and it would take a brave cricketer to potentially bid farewell to his international career however much cash he could generate from a mercenary, globe-trotting approach.

    And no governing body worth their salt, unless they truly have an inflated view of their own self-importance or a corporate death wish, is seriously going to jeopardise their marquee event because they don’t want to hold an adult conversation.

    Neither side are coming from such a strong position that they can do as they please and while the players may carry a better hand than in previous years, the majority can’t afford, and won’t want, to see their mode of employment jeopardised.

    This makes the ‘all in’ attitude of the players commendable and a high-profile international sticking together with a journeyman state peer lends the argument greater weight than the former merely wanting to inflate his bank balance.

    But one point Mitchell Starc and company have to bear in mind is that the tide of opinion can turn very swiftly so although they may have a good case, many will see, rightly or wrongly, their campaigning as avarice and a stain on the institution they are fortunate to represent.

    And on the other side of the fence, if the hierarchy take the proverbial sawn-off to their own feet and alienate their employees by being unforthcoming with their wages, they will very quickly be deemed unfit to govern.

    It might well drag on for a bit longer, as arguments where neither party consider themselves in the wrong have a tendency to do, but all out conflict isn’t on the cards quite yet.

    Neither side wants to lose, either face or financially, and any chance of a win-win situation has ridden off into the sunset, but don’t buy all this “Ashes in jeopardy” hyperbole.

    So go ahead and buy your tickets for Brisbane because, certainly for this particular element, there’s nothing to see here.

    Alec Swann
    Alec Swann

    Alec Swann is a former Northants and Lancashire opener turned cricket writer. Outside of the joys of a Test match, Newcastle United and golf generally occupy his other sporting interests with a soft spot for the Newcastle Knights.

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • May 19th 2017 @ 10:27am
      qwetzen said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

      Your piece is like someone who lives in Derbyshire buying a convertible. A triumph of hope over reality.

      This dispute is different to most because they’re not arguing over an amount, they’re arguing over completely different models. Throw in the arrogance and block-headed intransigence of Sutherland then a strike can’t be ruled out, especially by happy thoughts.

      • Roar Guru

        May 19th 2017 @ 11:09am
        Paul D said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        A strike can’t be ruled out for unimportant and irrelevant cricket prior to the Ashes – but the Ashes themselves? They’ll be going ahead. All 5 tests.

        Sure they’re poles apart now but the looming prospect of no side, no ashes, no money and worldwide condemnation will pull them together again. You can guarantee that, no optimism required.

        • May 20th 2017 @ 8:02am
          Nudge said | May 20th 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

          Yep spot on. With out a doubt the Aussies will field a full strength team for the ashes injuries aside. The people who think they won’t are the people who like to over dramatise things.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 11:21am
      Ouch said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

      If Starc and co.are true and are indeed standing up for their fellow players who won’t make as much, then good on them.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 2:21pm
      Sid said | May 19th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

      I’m not sure of the arguments but surely the Board have to be careful as all I read is that any TV in future could be less…

      • May 19th 2017 @ 3:22pm
        ojp said | May 19th 2017 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

        ‘any TV in future could be less…’

        I think its a given that the TV money will be less, at least for everything that Channel 9 currently owns the rights to.. recent analysis suggested that channel 9 overpaid vs the ROI to the tune of $40 mill (my quoted figure could be wrong, operating soley off memory here) .

        The Big Bash however, will clearly get alot more expensive.

        Anyway, Alec is right, the Ashes will go ahead; although I am no where near as confident as he is that it will be ‘a full strength Oz side’ …. shouldnt matter though, half the hackers I play modified T20 with reckon they are there or thereabouts in terms of being able to take on the best on offer from around the world.

        • Roar Guru

          May 20th 2017 @ 8:58am
          Michael Keeffe said | May 20th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

          The $40 mill figure that channel 9 have thrown about in the media is simply an early attempt in the next tv rights negotiations to drive down the price down. They are up for negotiation after the Ashes (brilliantly timed by CA) so this is a preemptive by Channel 9 to drive the negotiation price downwards before a bumper summer of crowds and tv ratings. This summers Ashes will be the most watched cricket in Australia and tv ratings will be huge.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 4:48pm
      Sava said | May 19th 2017 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

      Clarke ,Warner,must be paid a fortune when reading the Real Estate news in the Telegraph ,Herald, they report selling and buying in the millions by both mentioned Cricketers. I would sack the lot of them and re-employ a new team all at same fair pay and conditions.And let the Big Money players play 20-20. Or become Real Estate salesmen. Sava

    • May 19th 2017 @ 9:55pm
      James said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:55pm | ! Report

      I dont see what the players hope to achieve here, they have to blink first as if a lockout happens the players will lose the public sympathy. CA has done a terrible job of lining out to the public what their plan is, as i understand the problem for CA is that the domestic game makes no money, outside of the male and female big bash, and their plan allows for more guaranteed money to go to the domestic players and especially the female players and to shore up the future of the domestic game, whilst the players want the money for current players without looking to the future and relying on big bash to continue to hopefully pay for the future.
      Think Warner really shot them in the foot with his threat of boycotting the Ashes.

      • Roar Guru

        May 20th 2017 @ 12:21pm
        Rellum said | May 20th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        Good evening Mr Sutherland.

        • May 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm
          James said | May 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

          Thats a smart reply. At least offer a counter argument so that i can be better educated or i can better educate you. As it stands your comment offers nothing productive.

          • Roar Guru

            May 20th 2017 @ 10:06pm
            Rellum said | May 20th 2017 @ 10:06pm | ! Report

            I am glad you like it. I thought I can do better myself.

            If you want to read over this site, there is plenty of informed comments from many posters including myself that have added to a debate on the issue.

            Your comment has added nothing but the CA “plan” is great. One of the big problems for CA is that they have not sold their plan in anyway to make it a plan that people will buy into and that is a sentiment I see echoed around the media, despite what you say. So far the only comments in their favour I have seen is from people saying the test players get paid to much and they can afford to get less which has nothing to do with CA. I find that argument difficult to swallow as that is not the ACA’s intention to demand more for the Test players and if the players don’t get paid well then we see complaints that CA is not doing enough to stop the flow of kids to AFL.

            • May 21st 2017 @ 9:37pm
              James said | May 21st 2017 @ 9:37pm | ! Report

              Isnt that what CAs plan is aiming to do and basically my arguement, that CAs plan is to guarantee good enough payments to the non test players despite any external factors like less money from sponsers? People are complaining that CA isnt doing enough and its plan is aimed to stop the complaints.

              I agree that CA has not sold their plan well enough, that was what i said they need to sell it better as its a safer plan then ACAs which is to hope that the big bash and sponsers will continue to make heaps of money to cover the domestic league which doesnt make any money.

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