July 9, 2017

Why does Cricket Australia think first-class players are overpaid?

After all, the elite players, who finance the game and the administration, come from the first-class system

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"Ashes cancellation would have catastrophic financial consequences"

It appears that the two main objectives of Cricket Australia in its increasingly acrimonious dispute with the players are to reduce the amount of money being paid to first-class cricketers and to split their association.

If that's not the objective then why offer more money to the elite players and at the same time try to do away with the revenue-sharing clause in the MoU?

Firstly, let's address the issue of the amount of money paid to first-class players. CA says it wants to reduce this to overcome the shortfall in funds available to the grass-roots level of the game. Their main concern is to stop good young athletes choosing other sports, attracted by the greater odds of getting a contract and the higher remuneration available.

CA's case doesn't stand close scrutiny here. If other sports are more attractive to good young athletes then why would CA reduce the money available to Australia's first-class cricketers? Surely the lure of a lucrative wage is one way of stemming the flow of good athletes to other sports. Decent-sized rookie contracts in particular, and worthwhile money for first-class cricketers in general, are a way of influencing young athletes in favour of a career in cricket.

Then there's the matter of who devised the current system. It was the administrators of CA and the state associations. They introduced the academy system and appointed the numerous coaches who now proliferate in the game. It was the need to provide serious cricket opportunities for young players graduating from the academy and the coaches wanting greater access to the first-class players' time that took the game down the path of becoming fully professional.

Now CA is complaining that first-class players are overpaid. There may well be cases where first-class players are overpaid. The same could be said of most businesses, CA included.

However, it's that same first-class system that produces players who go on to become elite internationals. It's the elite internationals who create the wide interest in the game that produces lucrative media rights deals, large crowd attendances and eager sponsors, not to mention inspiring youngsters to either become players or followers of the game.

If you want young players to commit to the game, the remuneration should be attractive right from the lower levels © Getty Images

In essence it's the elite players who are responsible for providing administration jobs and, in many cases, well-paid ones.

The business of Australian cricket should not be a boss-and-employee arrangement. It has to be a partnership where both sides have an interest in growing the game. And there has to be a certain amount of trust and respect on both sides for it to work successfully. Neither trust nor respect is visible at the moment.

Now that the June 30 deadline for a new MoU has passed and the Australia A invitation to tour South Africa has been declined by the players, there are three further events that could cause a deal to be agreed.

Firstly, there's the Channel Nine sponsors lunch next week in Melbourne. Unlike the recent Sydney event, there will be CA officials in the room, and it could be rather uncomfortable for the attending administrators if a deal isn't imminent.

The next period of interest will be the ODI tour to India in October. It's highly unlikely that CA will want to aggravate the BCCI by cancelling that tour, so look for a deal to be in place by then, or for the tour to be rescheduled.

Then there's the Ashes series starting in November. This is a highly lucrative tour that creates great interest among the public and usually causes a spike in the playing numbers at junior level.

CA won't want to forfeit any of those lucrative Ashes opportunities. If CA doesn't have a deal in place before the commencement of the Ashes series, then Donald Trump's won't be the only leadership style I find mystifying.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a cricket commentator for Channel Nine, and a columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • heathq1437344 on July 11, 2017, 10:48 GMT

    Very well said Nutcutlet, Dunger.Bob, Ferris, Liverkeweii,Izzad and Jose..P. Also like seeing Hrolfe post with some good suggestions on growing the support and fan base of Dom Cricket. See there are always positives that can be taken from a negative, always a lesson learnt in defeat. Glad to see the support for all sides here, me I back the players and ACA, but still like reading all the posts from cricket followers. We don't need to be on the same page on matters, but we are all on the same page as cricket fans wanting the best for the game and its continued growth.

  • ian on July 11, 2017, 7:33 GMT

    I am generally quite critical of the ECB (and there is no doubt they are stronger on monetary matters than in their cricketing acumen, IMO), but there is not a murmur from the England players at the elite and first class level over remuneration and the various central contracts to the best of my knowledge. I would suggest that CA give them a call. The players have to be on-side. It seems to me CA is off the pace; this is major professional sport in the second decade of the 21st Century. It's not the 1960s nor even the 1990s. Players call the shots; without them the sport is nothing. If CA is now toxic and untrustworthy so far as the players are concerned, then they must resign - they have failed to deliver, failed to discharge their absolute obligation to keep Australian cricket on the road.

  • Ameer Hamza on July 11, 2017, 4:33 GMT

    if they do such things , the bad era will be start,i see his dominancy from last 21 years since i am just 31 years old , from 1996 - 2017 but now it seems to be big problem if the CA will not handle in gentle way.

  • Jose on July 11, 2017, 3:33 GMT


    The 'bomb' in your comment reminds me:

    In mining industry, when they see rock solid obstruction on the 'dump-truck's way to the pit of the mine to gather & carry the coal /ore for sale, they use 'dynamite' to blast their way through.

    It is pretty hard to discard what you had been doing, with success, in the past.

    But what they forget is the fact, when there is a change in the environment, they can't use the same technique. For instance, when you face a traffic jam on the superhighway from Melbourne to Sydney, you just can't blast your way through. Naa?

  • Daniel on July 11, 2017, 1:59 GMT

    One thing that doesn't seem clear to a lot of commenters, is that the elite players were offered a pay rise. They are standing by lesser paid players (primarily first class and female players), so for those calling them greedy there is a lack of understanding.

  •   Trabilsie Ferris on July 10, 2017, 22:07 GMT

    Throughout cricket history, from the infamous players walkout of 1912 through to World Series Cricket and beyond, it is truly amazing that Cricket Australia still have not learned how to negotiate with the players properly. You do not give with one hand and take other with the other. One point to ponder: nobody remembers a faceless administrator. They do not provide revenue through the gates: the players do.

  • rob on July 10, 2017, 20:55 GMT

    @ St John Smythe: Sneaking up and dropping a bombshell after 20 years of relative bliss isn't that friendly either.

  • drawly0432769 on July 10, 2017, 18:04 GMT

    Again, to comment on partnerships. The equivalent of taking your bat and ball and going home after a disagreement does not really give the impression of wanting to be serious partners.

  • David on July 10, 2017, 14:00 GMT

    @ EXPLORER76, so it is about money and not putting cricket first. Obviously, the players nor the Board are excited about the Bangladesh tour so don't expect any push to get an agreement before then. But trust me, something will get done before the Ashes series as you outlined the losses that will be incurred.

  • izzido8204666 on July 10, 2017, 12:33 GMT

    I reckon Cricket Australia seems only interested in the BBL so that it can make a fast buck at the expense of both Shield and test cricket. No wonder it occupies a major slice of the cricket season and receives enormous publicity promoting the game especially to families. Besides the ticket prices are also comparatively cheaper than tickets for test cricket. It is also having a detrimental effect on Australian cricket where some cricketers choose not to play first class cricket but prefer to play in the BBL to gain quick recognition to play in the IPL to make a quick buck. As a result since the advent of the BBL and the IPL the quality and standard of Aussie cricket has deteriorated by leaps and bounds. Very often you hear CEO James Sutherland boasting about the success of the BBL and the money it generates for CA but hardly speaks about the diminishing standard of first class and test cricket in Australia currently. As such it is no surprise that the pay dispute still drags on.

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