Australia news May 15, 2017

Ashes on the line in pay dispute - Warner

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Brettig: 'Pay dispute becoming increasingly ugly'

Australia vice-captain David Warner has declared the players are prepared to forego a home Ashes series to preserve the fixed revenue-percentage model at the heart of the dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association. He also said players would turn to domestic Twenty20 tournaments if pushed out of contract.

In a blunt riposte to the threat of the CA chief executive James Sutherland that players will find themselves unemployed if the ACA did not accept the outline of the board's current pay offer and return to the bargaining table, Warner told The Age that all players were united in rejecting attempts to break up the foundation of the current MOU.

Warner, a key figure in the current dispute - as shown by his acceptance of the invitation to dine with the CA board late last year alongside the captain Steven Smith - also noted that cricket's marketplace offered both international and domestic players plenty of opportunities to play T20 matches elsewhere if CA maintained its hard-line stance.

"If it gets to the extreme, they might not have a team for the Ashes," Warner said. "I really hope they can come to an agreement... we don't really want to see this panning out like that where we don't have a team, we don't have cricket in the Australian summer. It is up to CA to deal with the ACA. It's obviously in their hands.

"We thought something along the lines of this might happen ... it's not come as a shock, but more the fact it has come so early. We won't buckle at all, we are standing together and very strong, and as you can see from all the people that have spoken so far, we are all on the same wavelength and are sticking together.

"We want a fair share and the revenue-sharing model is what we want, so we are going to stick together until we get that. We are not going to shy away; we are just going to stick together."

The Caribbean Premier League and the English T20 Blast loom as possible platforms for Australian players to bide their time in the second half of the year. Under normal circumstances, CA must provide no-objection certificates for players to take part in overseas T20 leagues, but pushing players out of contract would open up the market in unprecedented fashion - not only in terms of competitions, but also the commercial and sponsorship rights of players.

"For us, as cricketers, if we don't have contracts we are going to have to find some cricket to play somewhere else because that's what we love doing, and we're obviously going to look to maybe do something in the meantime, otherwise we don't get paid," Warner said. "A few boys might go over to play the Caribbean Premier League and I think there could be some of the England Twenty20s on as well. We want to keep participating for our country as much as we can, but if we don't have a job, we have to go and find some cricket elsewhere."

Last week it was revealed that the CA team performance manager Pat Howard had approached Australia's top players - Warner, Smith, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins - with an offer of multi-year deals in exchange for no longer playing the IPL during their leave period. Warner called this caveat "laughable".

"It was quite laughable when I heard about it," Warner said. "It is fantastic with the security [of a three-year deal] but you can't just try and stop people from playing other tournaments. We understand where they are coming from, they would like their best players and contracted players to have that rest.

"I see it as a great opportunity to play T20 cricket, when they are scheduling T20 international cricket games when we are playing Test series - obviously there's too much cricket being played internationally. [The IPL] gives us a great window to get the T20 format in."

Both parties pondered their options on Monday, with the possibility of a meeting between the two negotiating teams pencilled in for Wednesday. However the ACA reiterated a preference for the joint appointment of an independent mediator to help resolve the present stand-off.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RAHUL on May 19, 2017, 2:46 GMT

    lot of people are seeing this in a poor way...playing for your country is a matter of pride, but you see it is their primary job too. how many of you will be working without a contract atleast for one year agreement in an office, with no security. Players dedicate their entire life to cricket and they deserve to have the security of money. Some of the people disregard the fact that this is also a job for cricketers.

  • David on May 19, 2017, 2:01 GMT

    Warner would be better served concentrating on his batting and actually scoring some Test runs rather than how much money he deserves.

    Current players earn more money than they're worth and CA would be better off investing money back into state and grassroots level cricket.

  • Prem on May 17, 2017, 23:54 GMT

    The ACA should first ask it's players to perform first for Australia. With a 0-3 drubbing in Sri Lanka, 0-5 in South Africa, 1-2 v South Africa at home, loss to NZ in NZ in the Chappell-Hadlee and SL at home in the T20s and 1-2 loss to India, the players should be ashamed of their performances first. Certainly Australia was expected to win a lot of those.

  • simonp3164620 on May 17, 2017, 12:11 GMT

    Good going Warner. Make a strong stand. Dont let these CA goons extort you. Good cricketers are rare but these cricket officials are dime-a-dozen. If they dont comply, just replace Sutherland and Co. and get more rational officials.

  • Jose on May 17, 2017, 8:33 GMT

    @DistantObserver on May 16, 2017, 11:18 GMT

    Hope good sense prevails with all the concerned parties. And we can all follow cricket without these murky backdrops, as you so rightly wished.

    After the Ind-Oz series, I switched some attention to IPL, with the motto that "some cricket is better than no cricket". Despite all the excitement, not quite satisfying, cricket-wise. From 11th to 14th I was back with the doctors, in their fort (as CA & ACA are cocooned in their own well- guarded forts), Since Monday morning, got released & back here, at my favourite digital club, where I can 'meet' mates from everywhere. Thanks for showing concern, mate.

  • Bruce on May 17, 2017, 0:39 GMT

    @DUNGER.BOB: A good number are actually on the top bracket of $300K. add in the Big Bash (average wage 78k) and then some also have IPL contracts or county contracts during the winter - certainly no too many of them are on the breadline..! @DILEEP THUMATI: The test players last year were on minimum retainers of 900k. Add in their match fees, state contracts, IPL, Big Bash, CPL money and you can see where this heading. We haven't even touched on endorsements (bats, etc). They are doing more than very well, thank you very much..! My problem with the deal the players want is that it strips money from grassroots investment - clubs, schools and junior cricket. Cricket is no longer just a summer sport so in Australia cricket has to compete with all 4 football codes for junior talent and right now they are losing that battle. CA has to make a serious investment in grassroots cricket now if it wants to stay relevant. If that upsets a couple of our 'superstars' so be it.

  • Ray on May 16, 2017, 14:08 GMT

    SAURON_OF_MIDDLE_EARTH: You're 1st post didn't make the cut so maybe all was explained there, but I fail to see how adopting a perfectly free market system will increase Test viewership and Test players incomes. Surely it will hasten the demise of Test cricket as players - unhindered by central contract obligations - are free to sell their labour to the highest bidders in the IPL, BBL, CPL, etc. As one who has a preference for FC cricket over the other forms, I find this sad. However, I can't say that I blame the players. I'd probably do the same if I were in their position. BTW: I doubt very much that an average cricketer in Oz is - or can - earn many times that of an elite cricketer from WI (assuming that they are playing in the IPL).

  • rob on May 16, 2017, 12:37 GMT

    @ Swarzi: Warner is no linguist. What he said is highly unlikely to be as deep and nuanced as you interpret it.

  • rob on May 16, 2017, 12:30 GMT

    @ BundyBear55: $200k+ for first class cricketers you say. I have to say that should be enough to be getting on with. I thought it was about half that but I can't say why I had that idea. Probably something I read years ago. .. @ Jose: Yes, I would love to see a side by side comparison too. It's the only way to have an informed discussion really. Still, they're more than numbers, they're peoples incomes. I'm not surprised the details are a little fuzzy when I think about it like that.

  • randolf on May 16, 2017, 11:52 GMT

    Please understand the crux of the dispute here. This is it: "CA is telling ACA that, due to the dramatic expansion of cricket in Aus, and the exorbitant expenses needed to run the game successfully, changes in the archaic revenue sharing system that existed before the coming of such lucrative leagues as IPL, BBL have become necessary. But, the tone of the players' responses shows that they are only concerned about themselves. Eg, here is one "...'we want to keep participating for our country as much as we can', but if we don't have a job, we have to go and find some cricket elsewhere" (Warner, D. 2017). Note what this Warner quote says. He doesn't say, "We as cricketers give first priority to playing for our country". Instead he says, "We want to keep participating for our country 'AS MUCH AS WE CAN'"; or "when we can"; which simply means that their priority is reserved for T/20 cricket; and they "can" only play for their country if they've no T/20 duties elsewhere they deem important

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