Steve Smith lashes out at CA over lingering pay dispute

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: Steve Smith of Australia celebrates after reaching his century during the 2015 Cricket World Cup Semi Final match between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 26, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Australia captain Steve Smith has criticised Cricket Australia’s (CA) arguments in the ongoing pay dispute between the players and the board on the eve of their first match in the Champions Trophy.

The CA has argued that it cannot increase the players’ current salaries as more money is needed to fund the game at the grassroots.

According to various media reports, Smith, however, challenged the CA’s statement, asserting that the players have chipped in with significant contributions to the grassroots programmes.

“I’m not sure I completely agree with that. If we look back at the last MoU, I think players gave back $10 million to grassroots cricket, which is quite significant,” Smith told the media here yesterday.

“We’re right behind (the CA) and what they are trying to do for the players and as partners of the game as well. We fully support them in everything they are doing,” he added.
Australia had a poor start to their campaign in the last edition of the Champions Trophy in 2013 when they had lost to England in their first match before crashing out in the group stages.

Smith is keen to avoid a repeat this time round and reiterated the importance of focusing on the job at hand and not giving too much thought to the off-field issues. “We are focusing on this tournament. These are the big tournaments and the ones you really want to win,” he said.

“So my focus is on that and I’ll let the CA handle everything else. “Every game is crucial and we have got to be at our best from ball one,” he added.

The Australian players will be playing ODIs after a significant gap, having played four Test matches in India before taking part in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Smith asserted that his teammates will have to adjust fast. “It takes a little bit of time. You just have to realise 50 overs are a lot more than 20 and you can reign things back,” he said of the adjustment to ODI cricket.