Australian news June 21, 2011

Australian contract priorities wrong - Arthur


Mickey Arthur, the coach of Western Australia, believes Australia has handicapped its chances of returning to the No.1 spot in the world Test rankings by docking the pay of international aspirants on state contracts to offer more money to Twenty20 specialists.

Players and state associations around the country have been digesting the weighting of contracts under the new MOU for state and national player payments, with the sizeable reduction in money available for state contracts causing plenty of discontent.

Where last summer a Sheffield Shield player was able to earn up to A$140,000 a season, now the maximum has been cut to $115,000, while the minimum state contract has been reduced from $50,000 to $40,000. Contract numbers have been reduced from a maximum of 20 to a maximum of 18.

State players who do not also earn a Big Bash League contract will be afforded a "top-up" payment, but the incentive to concentrate on first-class cricket has been substantially reduced.

Arthur, who has said he sees plenty of talent available to return Australia to the pinnacle of the global game provided it is managed adroitly, was adamant that this approach was wrong-headed.

"To be honest it has been very difficult with the amount of money available to keep all your squad happy, and personally I think it's the wrong way round," Arthur told ESPNcricinfo. "Your biggest salary cap should be your state contracts with the smaller salary cap being your Big Bash. If we're really serious in Australia about getting Australia to the No.1 Test playing side in the world, we should be reflecting that in our salary caps and budgets.

"You can (feel the squeeze) just through the salary caps that we have to work with. You're getting a bigger salary cap for six weeks' work over the holiday period than you are for trying to make yourself a Test cricketer. I think that's the wrong way round.

"It's no secret that all of the players around all of the states have been very disappointed by their contracts, and that just reflects the salary cap we had to work with. It's been a really tough contracting process."

Paul Marsh, chief executive of the players union, has previously defended the balance by saying he had "tried to balance Test and one-day cricket in this model so players are still motivated to play all three forms of the game".

"The total player-payment pool is going up by 10%. There's a 6% reduction in the CA retainer pool, the state retainer pool is reduced by about 30%, but then you've got this new pool of Big Bash money," Marsh told ESPNcricinfo in a feature interview. "So everyone will get two contracts: the traditional contracts are going to be less, but they will get a Big Bash contract on top of that. So all things being equal, players are going to push forward here. We have thought of all these different scenarios, and I honestly think we have maintained that prioritisation of Test cricket as well as we can."

Western Australia have unveiled a trio of new signings to the state squad, all seasoned players designed to compliment a young squad that will need the guidance of experience if it is to bloom into a group of Australian representatives.

As the coach of the Perth Scorchers in the BBL, Arthur has mapped out his own T20 squad, but is yet to secure it via contracts, which cannot be offered until the state rounds are complete. Cricket Australia has had its hands full trying to maintain the integrity of that process, as state associations peer expectantly over at the talent available elsewhere.

"First and foremost we've picked a side of must-haves, and we've tried to incorporate all of those guys in our salary cap," Arthur said. "It does become difficult when one guy that you're chasing, and I suppose you can think of Chris Gayle, he's not going to come cheap, so you could realistically have a guy like Chris Gayle taking one fifth of your salary cap.

"So it is quite tough, but I've put together a team and squad that I feel we need, and hopefully we can secure. Then for your replacement players there is going to be a bit of jostling in the market for them."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fazal on June 23, 2011, 2:12 GMT

    Atleast listen to the comments of an independent observer like Mickey Arthur of South African descent & former cricket coach of South Africa & get your prorities right. The cricket administrators of this country have been making lots of important decisions lately detrimental to the interest of aussie cricket.If we don't clean-up our act sooner than later by early next year we could be at the bottom of the world cricket rankings with fixtures against Sri Lanka, South Africa & India to be played. What's happening with the "Argus Review" committee report why is it taking so long to be forwarded when it is very obvious what needs to be done? Surely this is not rocket science.

  • Andrew on June 22, 2011, 23:19 GMT

    @Behind_the_bowlers_arm - I agree, I don't think the Test players need to be paid anymore individually though, I think we need more central contracts! This would allow for 3 formats & could include rookie contracts so that including someone like Cummins wouldn't be at Katich's expense!

  • Harvey on June 22, 2011, 23:08 GMT

    I am so sick of T20. Test Cricket is the ultimate level of Cricket. To put more money into the T20 gimmick is ridiculous.

  • Terry on June 22, 2011, 13:30 GMT

    Right, here we go. The money thats coming into CA re BBL is spare / free money right? Keep the state retainers the same and take 50% of the money thats going into the pool from BBL and add it on top to encourage Test players. The other 50% to be paid as a BBL related salary. THAT is the right balance. More and more money and encouragement needs to be put towards creating TEST players. Heads up to CA .....THE OTHER STUFF DOESNT MATTER. Its nice to win but winning Test series (esp the Ashes) is what drives cricket.

  • B on June 22, 2011, 12:29 GMT

    hyclass, you sound a lot like someone who has experienced the "system" first-hand and come out worse for wear...

    In any case, I agree with you and the many others (now constituting the general public, as far as I can tell) singing from the same sheet. How things got this bad, and continue on and on and on in the same vein, utterly defeats me. Australian cricket used to be a hell of a thing, now it's going to hell faster than I could ever have imagined.

  • Dummy4 on June 22, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    Cricket Australia needs an enquiry into the game or we will end up like the West Indies.

  • Peter on June 22, 2011, 7:48 GMT

    For god's sake put Mickey in charge at CA, and hurry before it's too late.

  • Antony on June 22, 2011, 5:26 GMT

    The results don't lie. We're currently crap at cricket. This will make us worse.

  • Andrew on June 22, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    @nzcricket174 - those of us born before 1980 remember very well a strong NZ side that beat us several times home & away in the mid 1980s. They did have arguably the best pace/swing/seam bowler of all time though (Hadlee). I still have nightmares about Hadlee's Gabba test! @ jonesy2 - pity we can't comment on the article re: "...cameron, birt and rimmington..." Cameron is a bowler that could of been anything if he remained fit. Has the potential to have a Clark-like mini International career of 3 or 4 years if the cricketing gods smile on him. I knew that something had to give in NSW with the bowling depth there. Even allowing for 2 T20 franchises & the probable official retirement of Clark; - Cummins, Lee (short formats), Hazlewood, Starc, Copeland, Coyte, Bills, Bollinger, Henriques & Abbott would of been very tough going for Cameron. I think he will be a real handful at the WACA! The spin bowling is a bit dicey too, with Hauritz, Smith, O'Keefe, Casson & Doran in competition!

  • Ryan on June 22, 2011, 3:54 GMT

    Sooner or later us Kiwis will have the power to beat Australia in a test series....haha, never thought this would ever be possible.

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