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

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