Australia news April 7, 2012

Australia players pay deal imminent


Australia's cricketers are satisfied with the new performance-based components of their forthcoming pay deal and expect the MOU to be signed by Cricket Australia and the players' union within the next two weeks, Michael Hussey has said.

While Paul Marsh, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association and the players' chief negotiator, was more guarded in his assessment of talks, Hussey indicated confidence that the potentially tricky bargaining between the players and CA, represented by the team performance manager Pat Howard, would soon be at an end.

"I think they've agreed on most things, they're just trying to nut out a couple of issues that are left. I believe by the middle of this month they're expecting everything to be negotiated and completed and the MOU finished," Hussey said. "I spoke to Pat Howard during the practice game and he said he and Paul Marsh were really happy with how negotiations were going on both sides."

Ever since the publication of the Argus review into the performance of the national side, the players' major concern about its findings has surrounded the addition of greater performance weighting to the central contract system. The review was critical of the landscape created by the current system, suggesting Australian cricket had lapsed into a "county cricket mentality" where simply doing enough to earn another annual retainer was enough.

"The panel has real concerns, shared by many stakeholders, that the MOU is not fully aligned with the current needs of Australian Cricket," the review said. "In particular it rewards relative performance among CA-contracted players, but not absolute performance of the team and its players against international peers.

The result is that today's players are being paid substantially more in real terms than their counterparts in the dominant teams of recent times, despite far inferior results. A number of stakeholders have suggested that this is negatively affecting the culture of Australian Cricket, in that players can make a very comfortable living without necessarily achieving excellence."

Both parties quickly agreed that the number of CA contracts should be reduced, and will likely be pared down from 25 to 18. However the issue of performance-based contracts took time to be smoothed over, leaving Marsh and Howard to discuss the matter in great detail after the players responded coolly to CA's first offer, explained to a general meeting of the team on the day of the Allan Border Medal towards the end of the home summer.

"From what I hear I think both sides are going to get what they want out of it," Hussey said. "I know through the Argus review there was a strong performance-based component of that. How much was I think what the discussion was about. Players are open to the performance-based part of the ACR. That's fine, it's just about how much.

"That's where the negotiation was from that particular point. I believe that they're pretty much there on that particular point. There's a couple of other issues that are taking more discussion than that particular one. I think the players are comfortable with the way things are going."

Marsh said his talks with Howard had reached a key point, with a meeting to follow later this month at which the MOU had the potential to be resolved. "We have an important meeting in the week after next," Marsh told ESPNcricinfo. "We have made some good progress but there are still some key issues to resolve. At this stage we can't predict when or if the issues will be resolved but we believe negotiations are heading in a positive direction."

In February, the CA chief executive James Sutherland pointed out that Australia's players would have been paid the same amount if they had lost 4-0 at home to India, rather than winning by the same margin as they did. "No one likes change but we're really confident we've got a proposition that's in the interests of the Australian players and the players who do the work and win the games," he said. "Players get paid the same amount if we win four-nil against India or we lose four-nil. Does that make sense to all of us?"

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on April 9, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    Just like to put a correction in - I meant to say like Terry Jenner. I realise that would be kind of impossible or miraculous.

  • MVGLW on April 9, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    hay!!! This is what required for SL CRICKET players as well. The theory of just doing enough to get their full salary should be wiped out and part of salary should be on performance based with additional bonuses.

  • Andrew on April 9, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    @popcorn - I'd actually like to see an expanded contracts list. I don't mind the top 18 players being on some performance base that allows for domestic excellence to get rewarded. I would like to see 3 to 5 positions available for Rookies who can be kept on that contract for more than one year (prefer no more than two). I'd like to see about 3 specialist short form positions, so that a player like Lee may stay on help develop those squads, it could also see someone like Doherty get a contract. The increase won't neccessarily mean too much more $s as it could be top ups to state contracts. So the top 18 contracts are performance based the next 7 contracts (up to what was 25) be state based top ups & about 5 specialist/development/rookie contracts which also could be top ups. == == == I am all in favour of performance based contracts, however, I think the weighting must be such that someone like Siddle is VERY well looked after as he is excluded from short form games.

  • Andrew on April 9, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    Had we had a Rookie contract we could of avoided the fiasco whereby a dubious decision was made to not hand Katich a contract, yet Cummins more or less got one instead. Cummins should never have been competing with Katich for a contract. I fully agree that his talent demanded some sort of contract, however if it was a Rookie contract, it would not of directly or indirectly been at Katich's expense. I don't mind Smith having a contract, however, his performances haven't been that great & he has not been sighted in Oz colours for ages, maybe a development contract would mean he could get schooled by say Terry Jenner during the off-season or tour with the International squad & bowl in the nets. @popcorn - like your idea, although I would include a couple spots in "my" central contracts list for ODI & T20 specialists. Someone like McKay looks like he is just about a fixture in our short forms, I doubt he would earn enough points under your method (just an example). TBC

  • Andrew on April 9, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    (Cont) - some other countries have tiered contracts & I think that is what Oz should consider. I think there is more than enough reasons to justify at least a 25-man contracts list. For starters - the increase workload across 3 formats could lead to player burn out - I suggest that may be the case with MJ. Over a 3 year period across all formats NO OTHER PACE bowler bowled as many International deliveries as MJ. In retrospect, he should of been rested more often. Currently Oz have a good situation whereby we have a genuine Short-Form specialist in Brett Lee. He still delivers world class performances & that means we don't HAVE to play Siddle or Pattinson or others in ODIs or T20s. This shares the load better. ( Also if there were provisions for Rookies, (or even development contracts for Fringe players), TBC

  • Andrew on April 9, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    @mari2619 - this is a common but totally misguided theme you keep banging on about with Punter. Absolute garbage, he is absolutely essential for the transition of the Test team. He would easily get fetch around a $1m a year in the IPL should he chase that, & IMO, the work ethic & enthusiasm he would bring - at that price he would be the best but in the League. == == == I am not in favour of reducing the central contracts list. The 25 contracted players could be selected more prudently, but, 25 is a good number because it allows a good selection of players to be available for the demands of the International schedule ALL year round. Look at the WIndies, Narine probably would of (not absolutely 100%) probably played this Test v Oz had he had a central contract. Given we are likely to go thru anything up to EIGHT (potentially more) pace bowlers thru a year - that's almost half an 18-man contract list. This also doesn't allow for Roookie development. (TBC)

  • Urush on April 9, 2012, 3:20 GMT

    Punter playing for money? How can you substantiate these claims when SRT scored less runs than Punter in the recent series, whilst earning more and has been apart of the IPL since its inception. Punter plays for his team, always has, always will. Trains hard, is extremely fit and is now playing for Tasmaina... Can anyone from the Indian team claim that? Do you guys even read the things you write? Do you actually believe what you write, or is denial not just limited to the Indian cricket team?

  • Simon on April 9, 2012, 2:43 GMT

    This would be a good idea, not so much for players, but for the cricket administrators. They get paid only when they actually do something in the best interest of the game, instead of doing what is in the best interest of the major sponsor, television or their own pockets.

  • Loner on April 8, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    @ Narasimha Godavarthi Ponting is still fighting for his spot in the team unlike SRT who has a guaranteed place in the team since as far back as I can remember whether he performs or not...ACB is different from BCCI in a good way...

  • Dummy4 on April 8, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    @Randy- punter was selected for the first Test of the 1995 home series against Sri Lanka in Perth, in which he scored 96. He lost his place in the national team several times in the period before early-1999, due to lack of form and discipline, that was never the case with Sachin and Runs do speak who plays better for country..

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