Australia news June 4, 2012

Player strike 'a last resort' - Paul Marsh


Australia's players have not ruled out industrial action if they cannot reach agreement with Cricket Australia over a new pay deal by the June 30 deadline. However, the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief executive Paul Marsh said the player union would prefer to roll the existing pay agreement forward if a deal is not finalised by the end of the month, instead of resorting to a player strike.

Talks between the ACA and Cricket Australia have so far failed to resolve the issue of the players' share of cricket revenue, which looms as the major stumbling block to a new memorandum of understanding (MoU). A new MoU was due last year but instead the existing arrangement was extended for another year as the parties could not agree on some matters, and discussions have been no smoother this year.

At the weekend, reports emerged of the possibility that the players might even boycott the upcoming one-day tour of England or the ICC World Twenty20 if a deal was not reached. However, Marsh said that while the ACA was preparing for all eventualities, it was still hopeful of a resolution with Cricket Australia and failing that, a potential extension of the existing MoU.

"That sort of stuff [a strike] is always an absolute last resort," Marsh said on ABC Radio on Monday. "I think our preferred method here, and I don't know what Cricket Australia's position is, but our preferred strategy would be to keep rolling the current deal until we can reach an agreement. Nobody wants a situation where the players aren't playing. But I guess it takes two to tango.

"Where the story has come from over the weekend, the question was put to us are you preparing for a boycott or strike action… we're preparing for everything. We're not going to get to the 30th of June and say we haven't got a deal, what do we do now? Our job is to make sure when that time comes, hopefully we have got a deal, that's our absolute priority, but if we haven't then we've got to be able to talk different options. Obviously we'll take those options back to the collective player group and we'll make a decision from there."

One issue that has held up discussions has been the move to a performance-based player payment model, although Marsh said the two parties had almost reached agreement. But the major point of contention is the make-up of the cricket revenue pool, which includes revenue streams such as media rights, sponsorships and gate takings, from which Australia's players receive a 26% cut.

"Cricket Australia pretty late in the piece have come to us and tried to take a couple of revenue streams out of that definition as well as turning one from what currently now a gross revenue definition into a net revenue definition," Marsh said. "The amount of money at stake is pretty significant and I think for very reasonable reasons we're not agreeing to that. At the moment it's a little bit of a stalemate on that particular issue.

"If you have a look at what players from a lot of the overseas type sports get it's up over 50%. So we're pretty reasonable in terms of what we're asking for. If Cricket Australia want to start to unbundle all the revenue streams and say we don't want you to have this one now ... then we quite rightly should turn around and say we want more of the high-margin revenue streams."

The prolonged nature of the negotiations is affecting the ability of the state and Big Bash League teams to finalise their playing lists, for deals cannot be confirmed until the MoU is completed. That means a longer period of uncertainty for men such as Usman Khawaja, who has been linked with a move from New South Wales to Queensland but cannot yet sign a contract.

Marsh conceded the state organisations were "screaming out" for a resolution and that the talks could be an unwelcome distraction from the business of preparing players for first-class and international cricket. However, he said he remained confident that an agreement could be reached before the end of the month.

"The only thing I can go by is the history and historically we have always got a deal done," he said. "I'm confident we'll get a deal done this time but it does take two to tango and Cricket Australia, we need to understand what their intentions are. They're firmly digging in pretty strongly here and equally we're doing the same."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on June 5, 2012, 23:37 GMT

    @jmcilhinney - that would be pretty much what would've happenned as per the 1st line of the 5th paragraph. I just think it is poor form to answer in the way he did as it went straight to the Brittish Tabloids as STRIKE. == == == "If you have a look at what players from a lot of the overseas type sports get it's up over 50%" - other sports don't have the same structure as cricket where the subsidies to grass roots levels are stronger here. So I think 26 v 50% is misleading, pretty sure in the NRL the players part of the pie is much less than 26% - again due to the grass roots investment in the sport. @Behind_the_bowlers_arm - if that is true, then I think the ACA is making a greedy ambit claim. == == == Happy for the players to get their fair share, otherwise it is not a great stretch to see Oz players following the WIPA lead & choosing the "mercenary" approach versus the establishment/represent your country approach. No one wants that to happen, as it stands now, it's unlikely.

  • John on June 5, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    I think one thing to keep in mind here is that this is the players' official body, not the players themselves. Even if the ACA is talking about a strike, I bet that if you were to ask any individual player, at this stage at least, they would say that they were not thinking about striking. Let's also keep in mind the likely context here. While it's not clear, I'll wager that it's not the case that the ACA called a press conference to tell the world that they would not rule out a strike. It's quite likely that a journalist brought up the possibility of a strike in the first place and the ACA representative simply said that they wouldn't rule it out. If a journalist asked me a question there are a lot of things that I couldn't rule out but it doesn't mean that I'm even contemplating doing them.

  • Matt on June 4, 2012, 23:22 GMT

    Of course the ACA will do a deal, there is no way the players will risk not getting picked for the W20/20 or later Australia tours, especially the Ashes. They are just issuing a "cry for help" and chucking out terms like "strike" is the only recourse they have as the current contracts come to an end. The players know that they are seriously lagging behind other countries top players, and have heard it directly from two test players in the last 12 months, (you only have to see the wealth of advertising deals for Oz TV that the players happily sign up for - KFC, Brut, Rexona, Swisse etc. etc. to give some context - i cannot remember seeing an England playersign up for anything like that since Beefy and Lamby in the 80s!)

  • Nadeem on June 4, 2012, 18:57 GMT

    Greed should not overtake cricket, cricketers and management should work together to solve the financial issues. Players are who make money so australian board need to listen to them.

  • Ali on June 4, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    send in Hillare and Hunte to negotiate ........

    truth be told an Auzzie 20 year old with a development contract who has never played a Test Match makes more money than Malinga and Chanderpaul .....

    Sri Lankan and WI players are the ones who should be striking ..

    but Sri Lanka and WI are so loaded with Talent, a strike could easily end a senior player's career ....

    FYI .. the last WI strike unearthed , Roach and Russel ...and entrenched Sammy as captain ....

    A strike will only work is the ACA can guarantee that no young 20 year olds are going to jump at the chance to play for OZ and get a baggy green ...

  • Dummy4 on June 4, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    Retire from International Cricket and come to the IPL. Big Bucks waiting! ACB doesn't deserve you guys.

  • Terry on June 4, 2012, 15:26 GMT

    As to the share of revenue issue I understood that because the WACA are proposing a development of their ground which involves retail space and apartments the players were claiming a share of THAT as cricketing income. I'm sure it will get resolved soon enough and these pointless ODI's will occur. My scheduling would see them replaced by 2 more England v SA Tests while Australia A would still come but play 3 four or five day matches against the England Lions.

  • Randolph on June 4, 2012, 14:33 GMT

    @Madhav Vikas Sharma - I see your point, but that'd be more of a problem in India. Performance in Australia is not just about runs scored; it's about effort, teamwork, leadership, fielding, the whole package.....

  • arjun on June 4, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    Its good move from CA . If they boycott the series sack everyone n bring younsters . I guess the players who r threatening to boycott r the players who get enough from IPL . This performance based pay will certainly help reduce corruption as everyone will desperate to play well . @madhav CA wont b stupid enough to notice that . They will notice everything n pay according to that . If players boycott I still beleive a 2nd string Aus 11 is gud enough to beat eng .

  • Aswin on June 4, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    i agree wid dos who say that the aus eng odi series is pointless. playing in 50 50 games will not prepare aus for next year ashes. similarly eng could have played an additional test against sa

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