Australia news July 4, 2017

Clarke fears for team if pay dispute drags

54

Play 03:46
What exactly is the Cricket Australia-ACA pay dispute?

Australia's former captain Michael Clarke has implored Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association to agree to a 12-month rollover of the most recent MoU and negotiate the game's next collective agreement behind closed doors, before further damage is done to the game and a national team in transition.

The last MoU, signed when Clarke was captain in 2012, was completed 12 months later than originally planned due to a pair of intractable issues - potential privatisation of Big Bash League clubs and a proposed redevelopment of the WACA Ground - with a one-year interim agreement signed in the meantime. Clarke, who said he "hated" coming home to see coverage of the pay dispute take precedence over the concurrent Women's World Cup, said both parties had to consider the game's wider interests.

Specifically, he pointed to a developing Australian side that had lost to South Africa at home, India away and been knocked out of the recent ICC Champions Trophy as a key reason to stop the players from being placed in the middle of the dispute. With a home Ashes summer looming, Clarke feared for the prospects of the team captained by Steven Smith unless they were able to prepare adequately.

"I think what needs to happen is keep the current MoU for the next 12 months, allow the players to get back to what we do best, train, prepare, get some important cricket in," Clarke said at Channel Nine's Ashes launch in Sydney. "The women are playing a World Cup now, massive tournament. The Aussie [men] have got Bangladesh tour, India tour and then the Ashes. Allow the players to concentrate wholly and solely on that. The ACA and CA, please go behind closed doors and do this in private.

"The two MoUs I was around for got extended [2011 to 2012], weren't done by June 30, they got extended so I don't see any difference here. Keep the same MoU for 12 months to allow negotiations to continue. My main concern is players want to play for their country, so let's allow them to play while this stuff is getting sorted out in the background."

More than 230 players were left out of contract when the most recent MoU expired on July 1, with neither side countenancing a rollover of the deal amid a relationship that has grown increasingly toxic. The Australia A squad is presently at a training camp in Brisbane but all players have expressed their strong objection to undertaking any international commitments in the absence of working MoU, whether under contract to their states or not.

"I don't want the Australian players to be underprepared because they've been focused on something else," Clarke said. "So give them 12 months let the players concentrate on the cricket. I don't want to see any cricket missed, because I know how important preparation is as a player. We lost to South Africa in Australia, we got knocked out of the Champions Trophy, we lost to India in India. As a playing group we need to make sure we're 100% focused on our preparation, because the cricket we've got coming up is tough.

"I hate the fact I've arrived home from England and this is taking media coverage over [cricket]. The women are on fire in England in the World Cup and not even getting a look-in, because the MoU's taking up those pages. I think it's bad for the game. Everyone will say 'Michael you take the players' side' because I feel like I was playing yesterday and know those guys so well. I do want what's best for the game."

'I don't want the Australian players to be underprepared because they've been focused on something else' © Getty Images

Given the bitterness of the dispute, Clarke said he was concerned about the prospect of political machinations being behind the two parties' drastically opposed positions. He was also worried about how much either side of the debate had considered how it would be possible for the two bodies to work together after a new MOU is signed, given how much trust has been lost.

"The international players, men and women, are the face of our game, they need to be looked after," he said. "Young girls and boys grow up, watching their idols on television and that's why they want to play for Australia, so the players definitely need to be looked after. But in the same breath I've always believed it's important that our game continue to go [up]. Every boy and girl in this country has the opportunity to play what I think is the best game in the world.

"If they're our two greatest priorities, then to me this will sort itself out - there will be a compromise. If there's other priorities in front of those two things, that makes me nervous. It's important both parties remember ... you are going to have to work together very closely. I think both parties need to keep that in the front of their minds."

A rollover of the current MoU has two major roadblocks. The first is that CA's strident opposition to revenue sharing would mean prolonging the previous arrangement would be seen as a backdown by the board in the face of player power. The second is that the 2012 MoU did not include women, who have been direct employees of CA but are now set to be part of the next MoU shared jointly with the male players.

Usman Khawaja at a press conference after the ACA's emergency executive meeting last week. Khawaja said the A team was united in its intention to not tour South Africa if the dispute wasn't resolved © Getty Images

The national talent manager and selector Greg Chappell and the Australia A coach Jason Gillespie also spoke about the dispute on Monday in Brisbane, and did their best to play down its significance. "I'm expecting we'll see a resolution, a positive resolution, in not too distant a future and we'll get back to focusing on the cricket," Chappell said. "These things go on from time to time. I'm sure you guys from the media love the conversation but I don't think it's quite as big a story from inside.

"I understand both sides of the argument. I expect a resolution and a positive resolution fairly soon. There are very good people on both sides of the table and they're working hard towards getting a satisfactory resolution. I expect a positive resolution and everyone to get on with cricket. So once that happens, I think most of this will fall by the wayside. This is a good, healthy debate which you need to have from time to time and positive things will come out of it."

Gillespie, an emerging coach but also a player who has benefited from the revenue sharing model that the ACA is so eager to keep in place, said he was intent on ensuring the Australia A squad trained this week as though the tour would be going ahead without a hitch.

"It's an interesting situation, isn't it? I'm not involved in any of these negotiations whatever," he said. "So as a coach, [I've looked to ensure] the players looked prepared as well as we can. We have to have the attitude as if we're going to be travelling. I've spoken with other coaches of Cricket Australia, our focus is: let's prepare as well as we can to be on tour let's see what happens.

"I'd like to think the two sides get together and come to a resolution and we can get on that plane and go to South Africa. I think it will be a wonderful opportunity for the players, you know, to do well. Players would love to play cricket. Everyone wants to represent their country. The two sides get talking... what we're hearing is they'll be talking this week, you know and the players have shown good faith in coming up to train and prepare as if we're going on the tour. So we just have to wait that out."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • pdavie9680790 on July 6, 2017, 14:05 GMT

    @Jose...P Absolutely mate, you confirm what I suggested, that watching streamed cricket broadcasts is not an option for most pundits. A free to air transmission license relies on an act of parliament in Australia, and CA's political influence is negligible in the 'corridors of power' in Oz so the chances of an outside broadcaster transmitting free to air in Australia is virtually zero. I wish channel 9 didn't have the apparent monopoly they have enjoyed for 4 decades and if I have to endure another season with James Bradshaw calling the cricket like AFL I'll willingly poke my eyes out with a fork. Mr Packer (post WSC) gave the ACB an offer they couldn't refuse if they wanted a united Australia on the cricket field and the legacy continues...unfortunately in many respects!

  • Jose on July 6, 2017, 9:43 GMT

    @StumpsMcGee on July 5, 2017, 23:37 GMT

    For me, watching a test match through internet is out of question, as Dunger.Bob said. Even the shorter T20, I would hesitate.

    Whatever budget I have for internet, I need it for many other purposes, including researching and fishing out some meaningful data, out of all the conflicting info, all and sundry dish out. And, double check with those who are in the know of things, for sure. most times.

    .

    Still, a few doubts linger in my mind.

    1. What prevents some of these free to air broadcasters, getting the transmission license in Australia?

    2. When BCCI was at the mercy of just ONE public broadcaster, they did everything they can to bring in competition, by using all their influence in the corridors of power in Delhi. What prevents CA from helping a few new ones (willing &capable) to get the license for free transmission in Australia.

    3. What way it helps CA to let Channel 9 be the sole m monopoly for almost 4 decades?

    .

    I am at a loss!

  • rob on July 6, 2017, 3:02 GMT

    @ StumpsMcGee: I'm lucky enough to have unlimited downloads at a cracking speed but I don't want to stream it. For anyone on a download budget it's a nightmare. Especially the tests. .. ps. Couldn't agree more about Jim Maxwell. Even after his stroke he's still the length of the Flemington straight in front of the next best.

  • Cam on July 6, 2017, 2:37 GMT

    CAs attitude seems to be you work for us , dont lie it do something else.

  • Cam on July 6, 2017, 2:35 GMT

    StumpsMcGee it cant be broadcast on pay TV either to Foxtel as games of national importance are required to be broadcast free to air in Australia. Unlike NZ no such rules exist were cricket and rugby are on Sky TV.

  • pdavie9680790 on July 5, 2017, 23:37 GMT

    @Jose....P A nice thought, but none of the free to air broadcasters you list have a broadcast transmission license in Australia. If say, STAR won the rights Aussies could live stream the content, but the stream image quality is dependent on your internet connection and I'm not sure people would be happy with 1. the massive reduction in broadcast quality or 2. the eating up of their internet quota. The damage CA would incur from selling the rights to an international audience at the expense of the Aussie cricketing public would also be absolutely devastating. Channel 10 is in tatters, channel 7 already has the AFL so can't also afford the cricket and ABC and SBS don't have the money (although a Grandstand TV coverage with Jim Maxwell could be fabulous!) Nine is (and has been) the only option so CA has painted themselves into a corner....

  • Rajaram on July 5, 2017, 9:04 GMT

    C'mon, guys on both sides - CA and ACA - give a little, take a little. Let the game go on. Michael Clarke is right.

  • abdull6870225 on July 5, 2017, 8:29 GMT

    CRICFAN2944996924 on themselves of course!who else?

  • exelby4684110 on July 5, 2017, 8:19 GMT

    It's pretty obvious that you don't need 450 CA employees to manage a small nation like Australia's cricket. Wonder how many jobs for the boys are involved.

  • Jose on July 5, 2017, 7:56 GMT

    @BOB

    I guess, there is still hope/scope for "free for view".

    CA has to explore beyond the same broadcaster/s, they had been dealing with all these years. There are many in the world, who will broadcast "free to view" & recoup the payment to CA thru advertisers.

    All Indian fans enjoy that benefit, all these years, ever since cricket started appearing on our TV screens.

    Over a period of time, we had many such broadcasters. Here is a short list

    STAR TV

    ESPN

    SONY

    TEN SPORTS.

    NEO

    I know "ESPN-Star" & "Sony- Ten Sports" are 'combines now, but all 4 of them are still eligible, to bid for, independently, to my understanding.

    When I see both OPPO & VIVO; two dvns of the same Chinese conglomerate can (and did) bid for the title sponsorship of IPL, I think, it is possible.

    .

    There are many more, who had not been operating in India, whose names I can't recollect immediately, except for Sky, Fox & Super-sports(SA)

    .

    CA has to open up & be creative.

  • No featured comments at the moment.