West Indies in Australia 2015-16 January 2, 2016

Holder wants fairer Test match wages


West Indies captain Jason Holder has thrown his support behind Kevin Pietersen's call for a central ICC fund to provide more competitive wages to cricket's less wealthy nations.

Holder stated his interest in the proposal after ESPNcricinfo revealed the exact dimensions of the vast pay gap between West Indies and Australia, a scenario that has made it near enough to impossible for many Caribbean players to continue playing Tests when they could be earning far greater sums as Twenty20 freelancers.

Pietersen, in Australia to take part in the BBL alongside the likes of Andre Russell, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, suggested that the game should try to balance the disparity, much as the ICC has already done in terms of staging Test matches by creating a fund to subsidise series where they are not so profitable as in England or Australia.

"The ICC ... should say: 'Right, we need Gayle, we need even [Kieron] Pollard, we need [Darren] Sammy, we need Bravo, we need Andre Russell'," Pietersen had said. "Andre Russell is bowling at 150kph, whacking big sixes in the Big Bash. He should be doing that in a Test match, he shouldn't be doing it here.

"It's just a sad state of affairs that these guys here, who are star attractions all around the world and they command big numbers from T20 franchises, it's just sad they're not playing the longer form of the game. Test players should be paid a hell of a lot of money. That's the only way they're going to get the guys back playing. They should get paid so much more money than we get paid playing domestic tournaments."

Pietersen's suggestion has been tried effectively in other sports. Salary caps make a difference, as do equalisation funds. Australian Rules football has witnessed one of the more successful regimes of this kind over the past two decades, allowing a national competition to be sustained with strong teams in all states despite disparities between in terms of income and fan following.

Having presided over a tour played opposite so many noteworthy performances by fellow Caribbean players who have chosen the BBL while the Test team struggles, Holder said there needed to be a better incentive for cricketers to choose the game's most challenging format over its most lucrative. West Indies player wages were cut back drastically in 2014 to help fund a professional domestic four-day tournament.

"I think it's possibly a way to keep [Test cricket] alive," Holder said of Pietersen's idea. "Obviously we're in a situation where the money isn't great for us at the moment and we've been in numerous battles for that but that's beyond our control at this present time. We've just got to play cricket. At the end of the day hopefully somewhere along the line we can have an increasing pay and be paid a little bit better than at the moment."

While he is clearly passionate about playing Tests - to the point of researching the story of the Caribbean "cricket anthem" Rally Round the West Indies - Holder stated that he also enjoyed the hustle and bustle of T20 and its attendant financial rewards. He would like to see a greater balance struck between formats so that international and T20 interests are not in such constant competition.

"I think we need to strike a balance," Holder said. "I'm not knocking T20 cricket because I love T20 cricket myself, but we just need to find a way where the country comes first and then we are flexible in terms of allowing people to make money outside of international cricket. I don't think we should be playing hard ball and deny people from going and playing, but there has to be a situation where we make international cricket our first priority.

"I think once we get to that stage the players will buy in. We've had so many issues that are beyond our control - some players have chosen to go this way [to T20], and others have chosen to stay. I just control what I control at the moment and that's just me playing cricket and trying to instil in the guys to play cricket to the best of their ability."

On this tour, Holder's men started poorly but have slowly improved. He desires further progress at the SCG. "It just shows what we can do when we actually stick it out," Holder said of his side's fighting effort in Melbourne. "We fought really well in the last two days of the last Test match and it gives us some confidence going into this one. It is important that we build on that and make sure we finish this Test match on a high."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on January 6, 2016, 19:39 GMT

    This is kind of a quandary for me. As a staunch capitalist I believe every human has the right to make as much money as they can but as a big fan of red ball cricket I know that for the majority of players in the world that means eschewing tests and playing franchise games. Any such attempt at using "other peoples money" (as always seems to be the cry from the masses) had better be indexed to the cost of living. England, Australia and NZ are ridiculously expensive places to live in compared to India or even South Africa and have the onerous tax on top of tax structure to prove it. Playing for pride etc. simply doesn't fly now especially when the realistic earning window for a world class athlete is less than a decade. ENG, IND and Oz have the fan base/broadcasting cash to be able to pay their most relevant test players enough to only dabble with 20/20 leagues if it doesn't clash with national interests. The rest of the world isn't so lucky and this isn't likely to change anytime soon

  • Vinod on January 4, 2016, 1:37 GMT

    if they were the highest paid the world, would they be leading 2-0 in the current series? The reality is a serious talent deficit and all the $$ not gonna make up for that.....to the Windies -get real, get the passion for representing the carribean, get the hunger to excel @ test cricket....the $$ will follow....peace from an indian fan of the windies

  • Ali on January 3, 2016, 23:17 GMT

    Does this mean he is going to be dropped from all formats of cricket ?



    It stands to reason ....

  • Ken on January 3, 2016, 22:46 GMT

    This is a no-brainer. Could second tier nations boycott Australia, England and India until a fairer distribution occurs? The big three would soon tire of playing each other and the crowds and money would soon disappear. However the variety would still be there in the second tier especially if Holland, Afghanistan and Ireland, at the very least, were added to the mix. Regardless touring teams in Australia must tire of the invective from the hysterical and jingoistic press who have them written off before the first ball is bowled. The ICC could also extend a share of the wealth to women's cricket, so that women currently playing 51 days of their own big bash cricket for less than some test players in Australia get for one test, can be paid properly. Please note the large female following in the Big Bash and that surely the growth of women's cricket depends on a higher top end pay structure to improve quality and competitiveness

  • Alex on January 3, 2016, 4:06 GMT

    @whensdrinks May be in T20 where you need bits and piece players who can do bit of everything and athletic. You need bigger contribution in one discipline in TEST and ODI. First of all he is not leadership material. Only darren sammy commanded respect with his leadership skills and sheperded bad team. They dumped him for reasons unknown. When cricket board badly managed no amount of money can fix. Lloyd may be asking for money for his luxury condo. ICC should push WICB to associate team. That is first and let WICB fix itself. Because external action of how to restructure WICB will never bear fruit. WICB & CARICOM work together along with ICC to go it alone. My Idea is split WICB based on resources and economy into two. Lloyd should be dumped from selector job because he is creating nothing but chaos.

  • Amit on January 3, 2016, 3:49 GMT

    Interesting idea from KP and one that could help keep the game alive in certain nations. For WI however, the fundamental issue of trust between the board and its players needs to be addressed first. Money is not the only reason WI cricketers don't want to play for the WICB. Their treatment at the hands of an extremely political establishment has often been tasteless and reprehensible. With T20 leagues, players have an opportunity to play the game, make a living while being popular with fans. More importantly, it also is an opportunity to be respected and not be insulted / mistreated at the hands of administrators. Love for the sport / nation isn't going to be the driver to close this gap between players and the board. Good governance will be the key to any resurgence in WI. Unfortunately, the ICC hasn't shown that it encourages full member nations to walk the right path. If the world wants a strong WI cricket, the transformation process needs oversight from ICC.

  • shahid on January 3, 2016, 3:22 GMT

    I have heard that no foreign player can be inducted in to a T20 league unless player's own board gives him a NOC. If it is true then why do the boards allow such player's to play these leagues who avoid making themselves available for test matches? Or they should just impose a fee on NOC which is equalent to 25 % of that player's salary in the T20 league in an other country.

  • shahid on January 3, 2016, 3:16 GMT

    It's private T20 leagues which are damaging test cricket, so it will be fair for ICC to tax these Leagues such as IPL, Big bash etc. In fact, franchises should be asked to deduct 25 % of foreign player's salaries and deposit the amount in to ICC's test salary fund.

  • Ken on January 3, 2016, 1:29 GMT

    Russell is not bowling 150 kph

  • Dominic on January 2, 2016, 23:09 GMT

    Start winning matches and a pay rise will be justified, otherwise you will be playing against the second tier.

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