New Zealand's cricketers will be entitled to a 26.5% share of their governing body's projected revenue and 30% of revenue above projections after striking a pay deal for the next four years. But the first-class Plunkett Shield competition is to be reduced from 10 matches per team each season to eight.
Estimates of the payment pool from 2018 to 2022 have centrally and domestically-contracted players sharing from an expected windfall of NZD 65.3 million over that period. The deal, which followed lengthy negotiations between New Zealand Cricket and the New Zealand Players Association, commences formally on August 1 and is estimated to provide a 16% overall pay increase to players relative to the previous deal, which ran from 2010 to this year.
Under that earlier agreement, the maximum central contract for 2017-18 was worth NZD 210,397 and the minimum contract worth NZD 85,585.
Next on the agenda between the players and NZC is discussion of a new agreement concerning New Zealand women's players, with the current deal due to expire next year. The goal is to strike a new bargain that runs concurrently with the men's deal.
Tellingly, the NZC chief executive David White and his NZPA counterpart Heath Mills remarked on the cordial nature of their talks, which never reached the levels of acrimony seen between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association in debating the model for their MoU last year. That dispute led to the cancellation of an Australia A tour of South Africa and CA and state players falling out of contract for more than a month.
"I just want to congratulate everyone involved in the constructive manner in which the entire process was conducted," White said. "It was evident throughout that all parties shared a common interest in striking an agreement that was fair, progressive and good for the overall game in New Zealand. There has been strong and robust discussion throughout the process, as you'd expect with such a significant document - but the overall tone has been one of cooperation."
Mills, the longtime chief of the NZPA, said the new master agreement was the result of collaborative talks in which the players association felt respected and was given access to the governing body's revenue forecasts. "I'd like to acknowledge the spirit in which NZC and the Major Associations entered the negotiation process," Mills said. "At all times, we've felt respected, and treated as an important and valued stakeholder in the sport. It's great to see all parties so well aligned and moving in the same direction."
The reduction of matches in the first-class competition reflects a further shift towards the predominance of white ball formats in New Zealand, albeit with an expansion of the New Zealand A schedule intended as something of a counterbalance. The domestic 50-over tournament will be increased from eight rounds to 10.
Other changes to the collective agreement include a broadening of the contract base for domestic teams. While there is a reduction of the number of centrally-contracted players from 21 to 20, the increase in available domestic places from 15 to 16 will allow the lower tier to develop more players capable of playing internationally.
"We're delighted with the outcome," Central Districts chief executive Pete De Wet said. "We're particularly pleased with the priority that's been placed on domestic cricket, and the recognition of the importance of it as a development pathway for aspiring international cricketers."
As part of an expanded deal in terms of its scope, the master agreement will feature greater funds for development programmes; a new health and well-being scheme for past players; and the injection of NZD 2.85 million into the cricketers' retirement fund over the next four years.