Australian news

Australian contract priorities wrong - Arthur

Daniel Brettig

June 21, 2011

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

Chris Lynn defends on the way to 139, Queensland v Western Australia, Sheffield Shield, Brisbane, March 12, 2010
Incentives for future Test aspirants like Chris Lynn have been reduced in order to make Twenty20 more lucrative, something Arthur said was "the wrong way round" © Getty Images

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by fazald 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.

Posted by Meety 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!

Posted by MinusZero 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.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm 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.

Posted by unregisteredalien 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.

Posted by   on (June 22, 2011, 10:50 GMT)

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

Posted by PYC1959 on (June 22, 2011, 7:48 GMT)

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

Posted by Blokker on (June 22, 2011, 5:26 GMT)

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

Posted by Meety 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!

Posted by nzcricket174 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.

Posted by Woody111 on (June 22, 2011, 3:34 GMT)

Some excellent comments here and I completely agree with Mickey. For as long as we carry these muppets in CA we will not move anywhere in test cricket but rather produce second rate players like Steve Smith who have no idea how to bat for 6 hours but grant them baggy green caps. Look at England; they know that not all their test players are suited to the rubbish that is 20/20 and don't ty to blend them. At a state level we are punishing those that have made their way playing tough hard cricket and rewarded slap-happy thugs who wouldn't know a forward defensive shot if it kicked them in the bollocks. Don't be surprised if not only does Aus lose this summer to India 3 zip but we lose the 2013 Ashes 4 zip and then the return leg that summer as well!

Posted by fazald on (June 22, 2011, 3:11 GMT)

I wonder how did we end up with such a incompetent bunch of selectors & cricket administrators at the same time making foolish decisions about the future of Australian cricket.Nowaday's it seems that we just cannot get things right & are heading in the wrong direction in everything we do.At a time when we need to give every encouragement & incentive to our cricketers playing state cricket CA decides to cut their pay whilst boosting the money earned by those who play T20.This clearly shows that CA is no longer interested in test cricket & only keen on making money. In the recent past many young cricketers have given up the game due to sheer frustration regarding selection policies & decisions etc. as a result our standards in world cricket have plumetted to the lowest level in the history of the game.At the end of the day it is not how much money we make that's going to count but our credibility as a powerful cricketing nation that we have upheld all these years. Wake up CA.

Posted by farkin on (June 22, 2011, 2:46 GMT)

the players who don't have a ca contract should go on strike

Posted by thenoostar on (June 22, 2011, 2:33 GMT)

@ popcorn... yep it is true. T20 is more lucrative so why stuff round with domestic odi and first class rubbish. after all the only people who follow it are stats nerds and selectors. if they get a couple of hunderd to the game for domestic first class or odi games they are doing well. that aint going to remain financially sustainable... What would be more lucerative than Maybe cricket administrators will start going down that path when people get sick of domestic T20.

Imagine in 25 years when Europe is challenging Asia/Oceania for the Ashes of baseball( formerly cricket until it was sold to the NBL by the BCCI as cricket broadcasting revenues couldnt match what the NBL had to offer)

Posted by ygkd on (June 22, 2011, 0:10 GMT)

I listened to Arthur's interview and I found him pretty impressive. WA made a good appointment there.

Posted by hyclass on (June 22, 2011, 0:06 GMT)

The decision makers for australian cricket over the last 4 years will go down in australian folklore as,'The Scorched Earth Crew'.They may go down in the Guiness Book of Records for the greatest number of excuses for failure,ever to not involve their own accountability.Never was talent wasted so badly,without a single person being brought to task.The Ashes lows were historical and built on previous Ashes lows from the same crew and many other poor series performances.The World Cup was lost.A meaningless self promotional tour of Bangladesh had passed.Hooray!We beat some kids with weak FC records.Pity the same players couldnt beat genuine opponents.This 20/20 comp is an attempt by the Board to assert control,through money,over cricketers who are increasingly choosing foreign shores,knowing that selection pathways here are impossible to fathom.Who will choose the toil of 4 and 5 day cricket when runs and wickets wont get you selected anyway & big paycheques can be found in IPL 20/20.

Posted by Meety on (June 22, 2011, 0:01 GMT)

I understand the concept that - because their is a bigger pool of money on the table for the players means that something could be cut. I really do think that at the moment $140k per year is just off the pace compared to Football codes. The players needed to maintain the $140 so that the BBL actually topped them up so they were comparable to other Oz sports. Hopefully the fact there is more money floating around will see the talent pool in cricket maintained or strengthened. Once a player is on the state/franchise scene then its up to the Centre of Excellance & State coaches to ensure the talent can as much as possible adapt to 1st class & higher representation. I did say HOPEFULLY!

Posted by SRT_GENIUS on (June 21, 2011, 23:53 GMT)

This is hilarious, I must say.

Posted by hyclass on (June 21, 2011, 23:39 GMT)

There has been a push by CA to usurp the power of the states.Dissatisfied with leading our test cricketers into selection,coaching and ranking oblivion,they now wish to kill off the entire system.Despite misgivings by all of the state boards,CA has overridden them on this farcical 20/20 episode.Jack Clarke insisted that though australia had fallen to 5th in test rankings,and had lost every meaningful competition they were involved in,he didnt believe that our cricket was as bad as people were making out.He employs Sutherland who believes the fault lies with the curators and the state comp.He also employs Chappell who believes that experienced state and test players should make way for unproven youth.He thinks states should not make winning the Shield a priority and should only exist to promote youth into the test side.He placed age and over limits on the Futures League that so harmed it,that they have been forceably revoked.They employ Hilditch and Nielsen aka cant select & cant coach.

Posted by babarzia on (June 21, 2011, 17:50 GMT)

Australian board is on a slippery slope. Ijaz Butt watch have a serious new, and upcoming, fast moving contender for the most idiotically run cricket board.

Posted by s.sreekant on (June 21, 2011, 17:06 GMT)

is there anyone in CA who has some brains to advice on how run a board,are the CA expecting to perform only in t20s and not in test matches,how il a youngster be encouraged to play FC if such ideas exist

Posted by popcorn on (June 21, 2011, 14:21 GMT)

Twenty 20 has ruined Test and ODI Cricket. But Cricket Aaustralia couldn't care less. It is smelling the moolah. Sic.

Posted by cmonaussiecmon on (June 21, 2011, 13:35 GMT)

Go the warriors!!! I'm behind ya mickey!

Posted by Mervo on (June 21, 2011, 11:22 GMT)

He is correct. This bunch of selectors who have failed us many times, yet are still there is a slap in the face to Australian cricket lovers. Cricket Australia the ruling body keeps aloft of these events but it too will be cleaned away, unless they act soon. The public are unhappy and with good reason. We have the cricketers but not the system to select and support them with test cricket as the priority. It is now about quick money in 20/20 "big bash", not about building a future for all forms of the game, based on the peak format, test cricket. England has done it, and now at last we can learn a lesson from them. But only, IF our CA listens and learns and re-structures now. No more promises of spurious enquiries, but real change that we can see.

Posted by Impactzone on (June 21, 2011, 11:04 GMT)

Keep telling them like it is Mickey.

T20 needs to be cut loose of all State squad involvement and purse strings. Let it sink or swim on its own. If T20 is for real, the crowds and TV ratings will keep it going.

In the meantime, cutting state players salaries incase they get a gig will have many players using the words 'this sucks'.

Posted by Winsome on (June 21, 2011, 10:05 GMT)

Mickey is right on one hand, CA are being hypocritical to put it mildly with their talk of wanthing the Aussies to be the best at test cricket again, but on the other side of the question is the massive hole in their accounts. They have to find money from somewhere and they think the BBL is one way to do it. I don't think they'll give a damn about the long-term prospect for the Shield or test cricket as long as they are on to a money-spinner with BBL. I don't think they are, it will take a few years to take off if it takes off at all, but I assume that is the way they see it.

Posted by jonesy2 on (June 21, 2011, 9:58 GMT)

arthur is right. on a better note, cameron, birt and rimmington to the warriors!

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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