Australia news July 11, 2017

Mark Taylor calls for MoU compromise


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What exactly is the Cricket Australia-ACA pay dispute?

Mark Taylor, the Cricket Australia (CA) board director, has admitted that compromise must be found between the game's governing body and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) before the game suffers further damage, in an ugly pay war that has put the national team's upcoming series at risk of abandonment.

In speaking at an Ashes event organised by the Nine Network in Melbourne on Tuesday, Taylor became the first senior CA figure connected to the MoU debate to offer a public opinion on the dispute in more than six weeks, since the chief executive James Sutherland was interviewed by the ABC on May 25. Taylor also remains the only board director to have spoken publicly about it at all.

Prior to that, Taylor had spoken firmly about CA's desire to breakup the revenue sharing model on Nine's Sports Sunday programme on May 14. But he took on a more conciliatory tone this time, 11 days after the expiry of the most recent MoU between the players and the board left more than 230 of the country's cricketers unemployed and a mounting mess of commercial problems for the board. Not least of these is reassuring its chief broadcaster Nine - for whom Taylor commentates - that the Ashes will go ahead as planned.

"I think there's got to be compromise on both sides, I really believe that," Taylor said on Tuesday. "I think at any negotiation you give and you take. I think when you get to that situation, which I hope we are getting very close to now, then you get close to a resolution. I'm confident there will be a resolution soon. I don't know when but I just hope both sides keep working hard at it.

"I think everyone has probably read and heard enough about things that don't involve people scoring runs and taking wickets, me included, and I think that [the cricket] is what we all want to see. That includes sponsors, TV networks, past players, commentators, and I think the quicker we get to that situation the better for the game.

"I'm still very confident there will be an Ashes series and I'm very confident there will be some Test-match cricket played by Australia before them. That's certainly what I'm working towards and I'm assuming both parties are working towards that. It's far from ideal and it's cost an Australia A tour of South Africa which is disappointing, no doubt about it. But at this stage we haven't lost a Bangladesh tour and we certainly don't want to lose an Ashes tour here in Australia."

While Taylor has only recently returned home from holidays, he said all board directors had been kept informed of progress in talks by CA's lead negotiator Kevin Roberts, including conference calls every three days that he had dialled in to from overseas. ESPNcricinfo understands that some progress appeared to have been made by the middle of last week before regressing and forcing the cancellation of the Australia A tour. While talks go on, little if any movement from entrenched positions has been discernible since.

Mark Taylor said it was necessary for everyone involved to "be adult" about the pay dispute; Ian Chappell said while his sympathies lie on the side of the players, give how protracted this dispute is, there has to be fault on both sides © Getty Images

A director since 2004, apart from a brief absence in 2012-13 when the CA board was changed from a body of 14 state representatives to an independent group of nine, Taylor agreed that it was vital to find a way for the two parties to coexist in whatever new landscape was drawn up as a result of the next MoU.

"Day to day it's management's job, I've been away for the last couple of weeks, only got back on Sunday night myself, but I've been kept abreast of the situation," he said. "Calls every three days, sometimes a bit more often if need be, and now I'm back in Australia I'm well aware of the situation. And I'll be doing everything I can to try and find a resolution to this.

"I think we all have to be adult about it. It's a big game these days. Players are fully professional. Cricket boards are trying to do what they think is right for the game in general, so there's going to be times when you disagree and that's where we are at the moment. But I think both sides have to work towards finding a resolution which is in the best interests of the game and the players.

"From a game point of view, it's far from ideal. We are in July, the Ashes are still four months away, but the Bangladesh tour is only a month away. The quicker we can get it resolved the better, the quicker we can move on and rebuild the relationship [that] I think is important between CA and the ACA. The quicker we can start rebuilding that, I think that'll be good for the game."

The former captain Ian Chappell, meanwhile, termed the standoff as "the biggest bust up since World Series Cricket between players and administrators" and reckoned both sides of the argument, whatever their merits, had begun to be damaged from the moment the previous MoU expired on July 1.

"I think once it went past the June 30 deadline I think it started to hurt the game from both points of view," Chappell said. "I think the public were probably sick to death of it by then it was a plague on both their houses as far as the public are concerned. I think the quicker it gets resolved the better and if it's going to be a partnership, which I think it needs to be, it's not a boss-employee situation.

"If it's going to be a partnership there's got to be give and take on both sides, and probably most importantly there has to be a bit more respect, that's the first thing that needs to happen to help rebuild the relationship. My sympathies are always going to be on the side of the players, but when a dispute goes on this long there has to be fault on both sides.

"The job of the players association is to work with the administrators. Your job as a cricketer is just to play the game and having come from an era where the players had to fight the fight, that's not an ideal situation at all. To me it's up to the players association to get the thing sorted out with the board, and for the players to just play their game."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Paul on July 12, 2017, 8:58 GMT

    In Jan, Taylor heard rumours of player dissatisfaction and said nothing. In May, Taylor was calling for the players to negotiate with CA's Rio Tinto toe-cutter. Now, despite the fact that nothing seems to have changed since Jan, he's calling for compromise. Maybe what's changed is that his worry about his CA board job has become less than his worry about his Nine commentary job and less than his standing amongst the players of the game. Gotta love multiple conflicts of interest. Feels a lot like Taylor's endorsement of the botched "fair" 2000 Olympic Games ticket allocation. Glad I didn't buy a Fujitsu air conditioner on his recommendation.

  • Christopher on July 12, 2017, 8:39 GMT

    I went onto the CA site but could not find their annual report or Financial report anywhere. I think the link should be allowed to enable us to have a better insight.

  • Christopher on July 12, 2017, 7:00 GMT

    Let's hear what salaries the key admin people are getting including retainers and perks for Board Members? I wouldn't have wanted to know except the issue has entered the public domain due to Peevers incompetence or obduracy. Sutherland should be involve as should external mediators NOW

  •   sarunas on July 12, 2017, 6:58 GMT

    I am not sure whether links are allowed to be shared on this site, but it could be found Cricket Australia webpage, Financial report. The last available is for the year ended 30 June 2016. It is part of annual report.

  • Michael on July 12, 2017, 5:01 GMT

    Thanks, Cricinfouser on July 11, 2017, 10:17 GMT. $58m out of $340m is just over 17% of revenue. The last figure I saw from the ACA's claim was for 22.5% of revenue. How about CA offer a figure of 17% and be done with it? After all, the players have said they're not after more. Or maybe a compromise of 10% of total revenue plus a fixed amount, say $30M? As for this 'partnerships' vs employees nonsense, let's look at how other industries do it - in a legal firm, a 'partner' can share in the profits of the company as part-owner of the business. Profit - not Revenue. So if they're wanting to be 'partners' in the game (instead of 'contracted professionals' who are free to ply their trade around the world when not required by CA), then let's look at a Profit sharing agreement instead of the Revenue sharing agreement.

  • cric on July 12, 2017, 3:48 GMT

    Looks like the typical wharfie standout and the old union blockade. I have a simple solution. Hire a cricket recruitment company and hold a ten day camp to sort out all available cricket talent in the country. There is so much talent in Australia that they can field four teams simultaneously to play in Ashes series. Get rid of overpaid cricketers and give upcoming youngsters a chance. Let the likes of David Warner and Stephen Smith make their living out of IPL. At least the players putting the new baggy greens would have some respect for Cricket as an Institution and would respect the pride and tradition that goes with it. ACA can't spend all the money on star players only. Who will pay for the infrastructure, the grounds, the coaches, grass root club cricket and long term investment into Cricket that is facing rising competition from Soccer, NRL and AFL? Sack the whole lot of them is what I say.

  • Christopher on July 11, 2017, 23:22 GMT

    Thank goodness someone from the Board is standing up to Peever's obduracy

  • James on July 11, 2017, 19:06 GMT

    CRICINFOUSER ON JULY 11, 2017, 17:56, I cannot see any evidence for either claim you make. Where do get your information?

  • Stephen on July 11, 2017, 17:56 GMT

    One of the most depressing things about this dispute is how little solidarity Mark Taylor has had for the players and how little support he's had for the pay model he helped introduce. He seems to have gone completely native on the Board.

  • James on July 11, 2017, 16:50 GMT

    That's right, cricinfouser. Taylor has work and a life. Maybe you think CA and ACA are sitting around a board room 24 hours a day arm wrestling. That is not how it works. Give Taylor credit. He shows positive intent, is respectful, and is looking for compromise and resolution, unlike some we could mention.

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