Pay negotiations shudder to a halt
Urgent negotiations over the next wages agreement between Cricket Australia and its players have shuddered to a halt, with both sides admitting they had reached a significant impasse. "At the moment there is no scheduled next step (in negotiations)," a Cricket Australia spokesman said.
There has seldom been a worse time for an industrial dispute, as the finalisation of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the next five years must occur before the board and players can push on with much-delayed plans for next summer's domestic Twenty20 competition. The matters at issue are weighty, and each side has a valid case to press for their respective share in new revenue to be generated over the period of the new agreement.
Chief among them is the money generated from private investment in the Twenty20 competition, a concept foreign to Australian cricket until the possibility was raised by the unbridled free market economics of the Indian Premier League. While the board is adamant that such money should be used as an investment into the game's grassroots, the players deem it revenue and as such a part of the 26% of total windfall the players have been entitled to.
Paul Marsh, the Australian Cricketers Association chief executive, said the players' payments fluctuated based on the total amount of money in the game, so they were entitled to expect a share of new income. "We talked through our different positions, now we're going to go away and have a look at what Cricket Australia have on the table - nothing was resolved," Marsh told ESPNCricinfo.
"Private investment hasn't been included in previous MOUs, and the value in the private investment comes from the players themselves, and from our perspective the players should have the benefit of 26% of Australian cricket revenue.
"The 26% figure doesn't change when times are good or when times are bad - if Australian cricket gains a windfall from private investment then the players should get a share in that."
Another point of stalemate is the construction and sale of a bevy of new apartments overlooking the WACA ground in Perth. Marsh said the players were entitled to a share in returns from the project. "Our view, and this is also backed by a leading accounting firm, is that we are already entitled to the money from the WACA," he said.
Some have suggested that Australian players should be in line for a pay cut rather than a pay rise following a summer of desperately poor results in the Ashes and the World Cup. The board, however, rejected that idea, with a CA spokesman saying it was "fair and reasonable that they should have a healthy share of revenue from the game".
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor with ESPNcricinfo