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As I write this, the Australian ‘A’ cricket team should have been playing their first four-day match against South Africa ‘A’ in Pretoria.
This was an opportunity for players to put themselves in the shopfront window for potential selection for the Test and ODI side. With a trip to Bangladesh coming up after the tour, there was at least one fast bowling spot vacant in the Test squad for one of the pace bowlers to stake their claim.
It was also an opportunity for all players to put in performances for future opportunities. In the recent past, we have seen ‘A’ form be rewarded with Australian selection, so in a sense you could say it is a missed opportunity for all the players.
So, what is this all about?
Revenue share – plain and simple. The players want to retain the revenue share model, Cricket Australia want to change to, in their opinion, a model to better reflect a changing financial landscape.
I’ve followed this saga with interest as a Life Member of the Australian Cricketers’ Association and as a coach within Australian cricket.
I have to admit to being disappointed in the tit for tat in the media between the ACA and CA. Why have there been so many press releases stating disappointment at the lack of meaningful talks?
CA have spoken about “genuine flexibility” around talks with the ACA. Then we read in the papers that CA bypass the ACA and offer contracts directly to individual players. I’m not surprised there is some hesitation from the playing group.
The ACA are willing to be flexible in negotiations yet won’t talk unless the revenue share model stays. Is that “genuine flexibility?”
There are a number of things at play here.
A philosophy change at CA level. Players appear to be seen as employees as opposed to partners in the game.
It’s unique in that yes, technically, players are simply employees that draw a paycheque. However, the difference is that CA can’t just go and find someone else to bat at three for Australia and average over 50, nor can they find someone to bowl toe-crushing yorkers at 150km/h.
It has to be a partnership. I don’t necessarily believe that CA see players merely as employees. There is genuine sentiment from CA that understands how important the players are.
My thoughts are that CA are simply looking at numbers. They see that the Sheffield Shield and the domestic 50-over competition lose money. From their statements they have released publicly, they don’t believe that the finances of the game are healthy enough to have domestic players share in all cricket revenue.
Also, for the first time our women, international and domestic players, are sharing in this MOU and those domestic competitions are not money earners.
There is a solid financial argument here. And there lies the crux of this dispute.
#fairshare – all the players have been using this hashtag.
The ACA have proposed that 22.5 per cent of revenue goes to players, 22.5 per cent goes to grassroots and the rest to running the game.
It sounds simple and, on the face of it, it is.
But CA don’t believe it is quite as straightforward as that.
There are obviously costs associated with running the game. There is game development, promoting the game, logistics, administration costs and so on.
CA understands the domestic competitions play an important role in developing players for international cricket, the nursery grounds of Australian cricket.
However, they feel it’s fair to put a cap on domestic wages because these competitions are not there as commercial drivers, moreso high-performance indicators, and that there are players in the competitions that won’t go on to play for their country.
The way the ACA sees it is they believe domestic competitions being healthy and strong cricket is of benefit to our international teams, and that players deserve to share in all revenue generated by Australian cricket.
The players that won’t necessarily play at the highest level are contributing to keeping the competition strong by playing high-quality domestic cricket, which helps develop the players that do end up reaching the top.
There is also a sense of CA not really believing that the ACA should dictate how they administer the game.
It’s been very interesting to get the thoughts of the cricket supporters out there.
Whether it be watching my sons play sport on a Saturday or down at the local, the public opinions are many and varied. Some believe the players are greedy, some believe that CA are screwing the players.
I can assure you that neither of these statements are true.
However, the public has all agreed on one thing: why have CA and the ACA released a number of statements publicly and not just closed the door and sorted this out?
On this, I agree. Find a compromise and let’s get on with the cricket.
It’s not a great look for our game.