Australia news May 14, 2017

Players considering striking since January - Taylor


Mitchell Starc was among the Australian players to tweet about the pay dispute © Getty Images

Australia's players have been considering the possibility of strike action since as early as January, according to the former Test captain and Cricket Australia board director Mark Taylor.

As the Australian Cricketers' Association responded to the threat of CA's chief executive James Sutherland that the players will cease to be paid after June 30 unless the ACA agrees to the board's current pay offer, Taylor revealed the depth of the players' feeling while describing his frustration at the lack of any constructive negotiation.

Following ESPNcricinfo's report on Sutherland's letter, numerous Australian players, including Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch, took to Twitter to maintain their strong support for the ACA, using the #fairshare hashtag. Starc wrote the dispute "makes for an interesting men's and women's Ashes", while the former England batsman Kevin Pietersen wrote "Fairly big player strike soon in Aus..."

"The board and CA in general have been frustrated by the fact there has been no negotiation. I had players say to me in January of this year 'we could well be on strike by July'. This is before this MOU was presented," Taylor, who was captain of the national team when the first MOU was struck in 1998, said on Channel Nine.

"I'm not surprised James has done what he's done. Things haven't been going anywhere for months now, and I know Cricket Australia feel the ACA aren't negotiating at all. CA want to change the MOU, want to get away from the revenue sharing model, although the deal being offered to the players is still revenue sharing to a certain extent. No-one's worse off, women are going to be very well paid in the new model.

"But right from the word go, the ACA - I'm not so sure about the players - have not wanted to engage at all on this deal that's been offered. It's all about status quo or the highway, and I don't think you can negotiate that way."

Taylor said CA was intent on breaking up the fixed revenue percentage model because the board did not think it was sustainable. "It doesn't make business sense for Cricket Australia," he said. "Every time you make money you have to give away a certain percentage of it. The costs of revenue are going up in sport all the time, every sport will say that.

"This could be a win-win. Both side have to negotiate, Cricket Australia has said right from the word go there is our deal. There has been no discussion, or any negotiation on the detail of that deal. The deal they want is status quo."

Alistair Nicholson, the ACA chief executive, criticised what he called CA's attempt to "drive a wedge in Australian cricket" and reiterated the association's call for independent mediation of pay talks.

"Clearly, we are disappointed that CA are threatening the players," Nicholson said. "It's also a window into the nature of CA's behaviour in these negotiations so far. There is incoherence and aggression in what we have experienced at the negotiating table from CA. This has further been demonstrated this week with some top players being offered multi-years deals one day only to now be threatened the next.

"However, despite these threats, the players affirm their offer to participate in independent mediation. Quite simply, one side entered these negotiations in good faith with an intent to provide a win/win result, and the other is trying to remove player unity and drive a wedge in Australian cricket. Further lighting the fuse on this dispute on the eve of the Ashes and during discussions with potential broadcasters and sponsors is quite baffling.

"The point lost on CA is that the players will not respond to threats, whilst broadcasters and sponsors need certainty. That's why we state again, for the good of the game, that it is time to sit down in mediation rather than make unnecessary threats and create such uncertainty."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Scott Campbell on May 16, 2017, 7:12 GMT

    Well said GABBAGOD, not surprising that Mark Taylor supports the company line! I always have been a big fan of his and will remain so but on this point, no, not really.

  • John on May 15, 2017, 12:02 GMT

    @Cricinfouser on May 14, 2017, 12:09 GMT

    "CA are obviously expecting a jump in revenue in the near future from tv rights."

    Actually, it's looking like there's a real possibility of TV revenue falling in Australia. Also, the current deal is based on sharing revenue but I would think that it should be based on sharing profit. Revenue might rise but profit remain the same or even fall, so is it really fair that players get more and thus there's actually less for everything else?

  • Aditi on May 15, 2017, 11:53 GMT

    I suppose Mark Taylor is used to selling out. Let's not forget that it's the CA that's trying to change a well established model, not the ACA or the Oz cricketers. Any sport works because of the fans and the sportspersons, and admins are only the facilitators. I wonder how CA plans to 'grow the game' even with more money if the best players start dropping out of the sport or worse for them- choosing other sports to display their talents and thereby attracting youngsters of all ages to those sports. Thirdly, yes professional cricketers at the top levels are paid a handsome amount, which makes sense as they are the ones who help generate it- in case there is a doubt, it may be seen that there are sports which are popular in a nation and others which are not, while athletes in both such sports "represent their nation" they are not rewarded equally by that nation. Rugby, basketball, football players earn way more than cricketers do.

  • Nathan on May 15, 2017, 3:10 GMT

    @CRICINFOUSER, THEBIGBOODHA. You do realise that Tubby is a director at Cricket Australia ? You understand therefore his commentary on the matter is biased ? Also as a mainstay of the Ch 9 commentary team, tv ratings for an interesting Ashes series are paramount to him as well ? The ACA stance is not being taken by Test players to line their own pockets - its for the Shield guys who make $60k a year while working part time jobs to try and make a go of cricket. Imagine there only being 17 well paid AFL players in the entire game ? Or 17 well paid NRL players ? It not as if every Shield cricketer can go and make a fortune out of the IPL or whatever either - only very, very few get picked up.

  • Supratik on May 15, 2017, 3:01 GMT

    This is all part of a bigger problem cricket has which other well run sports like basketball and football have handled in a much better way: national boards engaging in commercial activities and behaving like money-making enterprises. Imagine if an agency like Interpol, responsible for sensitive policies investigations worldwide, engaged in money making activities. Would they have anywhere near the same credibility and trust from the public? Similarly, in cricket, with the national boards all engaged in commercial activities, there seems to be no-one with the credibility for looking after the long term interests of the game, which is just sad. Bodies like CA should be responsible only for the regulation of the game (governance and playing conditions). Franchise cricket really needs to become the core of the game so that there is limited scope for money-making for national boards. CA should be the ombudsman mediating in disputes like this, not be part of the dispute.

  • Pupalan on May 15, 2017, 2:08 GMT

    As fans we are on the side of the players. CA policy is horses for courses. Can we look at some new management horses to negotiate this course? If they are close to politicians they may even give themselves a pay rise.

  • Cricinfouser on May 14, 2017, 15:49 GMT

    agree with thebigboodha, this is militant union action from aca, something australia is very familiar with. There seems to be no desire to negotiate, just demands or else. Tubby's is the only voice of reason i've heard so far in this lingering saga.

  • James on May 14, 2017, 13:25 GMT

    Mark Taylor is a very honest man in my experience, so when he says the ACA have not been willing to even negotiate, it is most likely true. Unions in Australia can be aggressively power hungry. This is my sense of what is going on. Sure, CA may have their own faults, but I would take what the AListair Nicholson is saying with a grain of salt. Taylor says there has been no negotiation at all from ACA. Nicholson says CA have negotiated aggressively. One of them I said lying. It's that simple.

  • Cricinfouser on May 14, 2017, 12:09 GMT

    CA are obviously expecting a jump in revenue in the near future from tv rights. This boost in revenue should be injected into grass roots in order to keep kids interested in playing cricket. Not only is cricket competing with other sporting codes for the attention of young people but also technology, such as video games and the internet.

  • Vilayanur on May 14, 2017, 12:00 GMT

    The CA is doing to the ACA what the ICC is doing to the BCCI. Trying to squeeze the revenue generator.

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