Aussie cricketers threaten strike, Ashes in danger

Payment dispute between Cricket Australia and Australian Cricketers Association is taking an ugly turn. Players are heading for a potential strike, which may put the forthcoming Ashes series in jeopardy

An ongoing argument between Cricket Australia, who control the sport, and the players body, bubbled over this weekend with emotions running high. And, as things stand, it looks as though some of Australia’s stars would refuse to represent their country unless matters are resolved, Daily Mail has reported.

Captain Steve Smith has so far remained silent but was understood to be siding with the ACA.

Negotiations have been going on for more than six months already, with neither side keen to budge. But this weekend James Sutherland, the head of CA, sent an email to the ACA saying that, unless a deal was struck, players will simply not have contracts for next year. “CA is not contemplating alternative contracting arrangements to pay players beyond 30 June if their contracts have expired,” he wrote. “In the absence of the ACA negotiating a new memorandum of understanding, players with contracts expiring in 2016-17 will not have contracts for 2017-18. That players with existing multi-year state or Big Bash contracts would be required to play in 2017-18 even if a new pay deal is not struck; and that if a new MOU was not agreed. The ACA is fast running out of time to engage with CA’s proposal and optimise the outcome for players.”

This angered both the ACA management and its members, some of whom took to social media to express their outrage.

A new pay deal between Cricket Australia and players is due this year. The current deal, which has been in place for 20 years, expires on June 30. Under the old model, revenue was shared across the international and State levels, but CA wants a restructuring to increase its revenue.

With the introduction of the Big Bash League, CA’s costs have increased faster than revenue is flowing in. Thus, CA is offering men a significant rise in pay and a doubling of women’s wages. But only men playing in the international team could earn bonus revenue. The ACA is far from impressed with the deal on the table. Unless a deal is soon struck, players could by unemployed till July 1, 2017. They will not be available to represent Australia.

At present, neither side seems to be ready to surrender even an inch. Sutherland’s letter, considered to be designed to push the players into a corner, seems to be backfiring now. However, there are more than two and a half months before the present contract between the players and CA cease to exist, only to be replaced by a new contract.

Enough time for negotiations to begin afresh, good sense to prevail and cricket to emerge the winner.